LEGAL NEWS 29.08.2009

‘Half Of The Last 16 Chief Justices Were Corrupt’

The decision to declare assets is a big victory. Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan tells SHOMA CHAUDHURY what else is rotting in our judiciary

It’s great judges have agreed to declare assets. But will it really help? Politicians do it too.
This decision is very welcome, even if it’s only happened under public pressure. It is proof of the power of public opinion. And even though declaring assets is a relatively minor aspect of judicial accountability, it will help. If a judge misdeclares his assets, there’s a chance someone might know he has particular properties he hasn’t declared, and may point it out. One could then examine if these can be explained within their legal income.

The debate around judicial accountability has got really hot. Are there watershed events that triggered this?
Not in my own perception, but I think for the public there were two watershed events – the Chief Justice Sabharwal case (where there was an allegation that Chief Justice YS Sabharwal’s orders to demolish commercial outlets in Delhi directly benefited his sons, who were partners with some mall developers) and the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam. Both these cases got wide media attention. A 2006 Transparency International report said the judiciary in India is the second most corrupt institution after the police.

You’ve been at the forefront of the judicial accountability campaign. Why?
I have been witness to judicial corruption in the courts for a very long time. I know decisions are passed for extraneous considerations, but it’s difficult to get hard evidence of this. There have been highprofile impeachment attempts, for instance, on Justice Ramaswamy, Justice Punchi and Justice Anand. Yet, they all went on to become chief justices. In my view, out of the last 16 to 17 chief justices, half have been corrupt. I can’t prove this, though we had evidence against Punchi, Anand and Sabharwal on the basis of which we sought their impeachment.

What is the root cause of judicial corruption then, and what are your key demands?
Our key demand is an institutional mechanism for entertaining complaints and taking action against the judiciary. Nothing exists today. Everyone realises impeachment is impractical. To move an impeachment motion you need the signatures of 100 MPS, but you can’t get them because many MPs have pending individual or party cases in these judges’ courts. In the impeachment proceeding against Justice Bhalla, the BJP declined to sign because LK Advani had been acquitted by him in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Such political considerations prevail all the time. An in-house procedure was set up in 1999, post a chief justices’ conference in 1997, but that too is activated only selectively. For example, the complaint against Justice Bhalla was that he had purchased land worth Rs 4 crore at Rs 4 lakh — approximately — from land mafia in Noida. This was based on a report from the DM and SSP of Noida. This land mafia had several cases pending in courts subordinate to Justice Bhalla. Another complaint was that in the Reliance Power matter, though his son was the lawyer for Reliance Power, Justice Bhalla constituted a special bench while he was the presiding judge in Lucknow. He sat in the house of one the judges at 11pm at night to hear their case and pass an injunction in their favour. We asked Chief Justice Sabharwal to initiate proceedings against Bhalla, but he refused.

Similarly, Justice Vijender Jain decided the case of a person whose granddaughter had been married out of his own house. He was a close friend but he still heard and decided the case in this person’s favour. The point is, in these cases though very specific complaints were made to the then Chief Justice of India (CJI), he didn’t do anything to activate the in-house procedure. All these judges have gone on to become chief justices. Bhalla is still chief justice of Rajasthan; Virendra Jain became chief justice of Punjab and Haryana.

What’s the answer?
The first problem is that there is no independent institution for entertaining complaints and taking action against judges. There has to be a National Judicial Complaints Commission — independent of the government and judiciary. It should have five members and an investigating machinery under them. The second problem lies in the Veeraswamy judgment, which ordered no criminal investigation can be done against a judge without prior written permission of the CJI. That’s what happened in Karnataka. There was a complaint against several judges visiting a motel and misbehaving with women. When the police officer came, the judges threatened him and said no FIR could be filed against them because they were judges. This happened in the Ghaziabad Provident Fund case as well. The investigation is stumped because the CJI hasn’t given permission. We have to get rid of this injunction.

The third problem is the Contempt of Court Act. Today, even if you expose a judge with evidence, you run the risk of contempt. Judges are even seeking to insulate themselves from the RTI. We have to get rid of the Contempt of Court Act – not the whole Act. Disobeying the orders of the court is civil contempt – that should remain. Interfering with the administration of justice is criminal contempt – that too should remain. What needs to be deleted is the clause about scandalising or lowering the dignity of the court, for which Arundhati Roy was sent to jail. Finally, there is the problem of appointments. Earlier, judicial appointments were made by the government, which was bad enough. Now, by a sleight of hand, the Supreme Court has taken the power of appointments to itself. Earlier there were political considerations; now there are nepotistic ones.

Again, what’s the answer to that?
We need an independent Judicial Appointments Commission, which is independent and works full time, and follows some systems and procedures. Eligibility lists should be prepared and comparative merits debated and evaluated. You can’t just pick judges arbitrarily, and let people know about it only after the deed is done.

There is still no independent body to process complaints and action against judges

What are the best practices and conventions elsewhere?
We should at least have Public Confirmation hearings like in the US. In the Senate Judicial Committee, you have hearings where any public citizen can give evidence about the background of a judge that has bearing on their appointment. This is being fiercely resisted here.

Do any counter arguments hold?
None that I can see. The judges say all this will compromise their independence. Unfortunately, they are equating the independence of the judiciary with independence from accountability. Independence of the judiciary was meant to be independence from the political establishment, not from all accountability.

Are there other ways in which judicial corruption manifests itself?
There are so many. There is Justice Kapadia who decided on the Niyamgiri mining lease case in Orissa. He said Vedanta can’t be given the lease because it’s been blacklisted by the Norwegian government; but its subsidiary company Sterlite can get the lease because it is a publicly listed company. Justice Kapadia said it’s publicly listed because he had shares in it and yet he passed an order in favour of Sterlite! There is a law against judges hearing cases where there is a conflict of interest, but they just bypass it and you can’t complain because that would be contempt.


From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 35, Dated September 05, 2009

SC judges decision to disclose assets unanimous: CJI

New Delhi, Friday 28 August 2009: The Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan today said the decision of Supreme Court judges to make their assets public was “unanimous”.

“We are strictly following the 1997 resolution under which the disclosures were not to be made public. Now, because of changed circumstances, we will put the details on the website,” CJI said while interacting with reporters here.

Balakrishnan said that apex court judges have been following the 1997 resolution and they have been submitting statements of their assets to the CJI.

High Court pulls up Centre, state over Ganga pollution

Express News Service

Posted: Aug 29, 2009 at 0402 hrs IST

Allahabad Expressing serious concern over the pollution in Ganga, the Allahabad High Court on Friday issued directives to the Central and UP government to submit affidavits regarding the steps they have taken for improving the quality and quantity of water in Ganga.

Hearing the PIL filed by Swami Harichaitanya Brahmachari, the court also summoned the principal secretary (urban development), chairman of UP Pollution Control Board and Allahabad municipal commissioner to explain the steps taken in pursuance of earlier orders of the court in general and the July 10 order in particular.

The Division Bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Arun Tandon said, “Despite several orders passed by the court since 2006, no effective step has been taken by the state and the Union governments for setting up the sewage treatment plants.”

During the hearing of the same PIL on July 10, the court had asked the UP government to come up with a scheme, after consultations with the Nagar Nigams concerned, to begin temporary measures for preventing the flow of drains into the river till the permanent arrangements were in place for treating the sewage.

On Friday, the court asked the Centre to explain the steps taken by it after announcing the Ganga a national river. The court also asked the additional standing counsel to submit the details of the state government’s proposal for setting up a leather park in Kanpur along the Ganga.

The Bench, on request of the government’s counsels, allowed one month time to the state and the Centre to submit affidavits explaining the steps taken in compliance with earlier orders.

The next hearing is on September 29.

High Court dismisses petition challenging recruitment of Lok Rakshaks

Express News Service

Posted: Aug 29, 2009 at 0436 hrs IST

Ahmedabad In a significant order, the Gujarat High Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the government resolution, which enables the state government to recruit Lok Rakshaks in the police force at a monthly salary of Rs 2,500.

The division bench of Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi refused to entertain the litigation. It observed: “It is by now well settled that in service law, PIL cannot be entertained, and therefore challenge to the rules cannot be entertained as well.”

Retired IPS officer P B Malia and three others had filed the petition submitting that the recruitment of Lok Rakshaks and their subsequent absorption in the police was against the police discipline and recruitment rules.

In its counter affidavit, the state government had elaborately described the reasons for recruiting Lok Rakshaks.

It contended that the implementation of the Fourth Pay Commission recommendations had led to a rise of non-planning expenditure and had forced the government to take stringent economic measures.

Under such circumstances, the posts of Lok Rakshaks were created with a salary structure of Rs 2,500 per month. By passing the resolution of recruiting the Lok Rakshaks in 2004, the state government had abolished 3,000 posts of police constables and created 3,000 posts of Lok Rakshaks on a contract basis, it said.

Arguing for the government, the Advocate General had also relied upon a Gujarat High Court judgment where similar question was raised over the

appointments of Shikshak Sahayaks in the Education Department.

The government contended that the recruitment, training and ancillary provisions of the Recruitment Rules for Police Constables would apply to the recruitment, training and ancillary provisions for the recruitment of Lok Rakshaks.

Further, it was stated that on the satisfactory completion of five years of service, such appointees would be eligible for regular appointment in the cadre of police constables in the pay scale of Rs 2,750-4,400. The division bench said while dismissing the petition: “The fact that the government was facing acute financial difficulties and also that a large number of Lok Rakshaks were already appointed, with some of them already having been regularly appointed as constables after the completion of five years, the court cannot grant the relief sought for by the petitioners.”

Orissa High Court orders CBI probe into multi-crore derivative scam

28 Aug 2009, 2104 hrs IST, Nageshwar Patnaik, ET Bureau

In a significant development, the Orissa high court on Thursday ordered a CBI probe into the alleged Rs 25-lakh crore derivative scam in the country.

The case involves Indian business houses which suffered huge losses on account of exchange of derivative contracts that they entered into a couple of years ago to hedge their foreign exchange risks.

When the dollar rose substantially, corporate houses were forced to deal with lower rates because of derivative agreements. For instance, when they were supposed to get Rs 50 against a dollar for the price of goods exported, they were paid Rs 40 as per the derivative agreements. The dealers were allegedly pocketing the differential Rs 10.

The extra money pocketed by the dealer is alleged to be in the order of Rs 25 lakh crore, most of which went to foreign countries or to some unknown hands instead of coming to the forex reserves of the country. Al this has been done in connivance with some government officials, a local businessman, who had filed a PIL in the Orissa high court, alleged.

Demanding a CBI probe into the alleged scam, the petitioner sought to know where the rest of the money went and who the beneficiaries were.

On hearing the petition, a division bench of the high court comprising acting chief justice I.M.Qudusi and justice Kumari Sanju Panda directed the CBI to probe into the matter and file a preliminary report to the court by November this year.

Surya namaskar should not be made compulsory: court

August 28th, 2009 SindhToday

Bhopal, Aug 28 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh High Court in an interim order Friday directed the state government not to force educational institutions to conduct the yoga exercise suraya namaskar, or salutation to the sun.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state government had two years ago made ’surya namaskar’ compulsory in schools and colleges – which the minorities, Christians and Muslims, protested as an attempt to impose Hindu rituals on students of minority communities.

The Catholic Church went to the Madhya Pradesh High Court bringing to its notice that the order of the state government violates Section 25 to 30 of the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution under which the minority institutions are governed.

Advocate Rajesh Chand who appeared for the Catholic Church on behalf of Fr. Anand Muttungal (church spokesman) also pointed out that the order was against the interim order of the high court in the same matter in 2007.

He requested the court to give an interim order to stop the state government from making surya namaskar compulsory and initiate action against officials who violate the court order.

“In the light of the above arguments, the Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Chief Justice A.K. Patnayik and Ajit Singh, Friday issued an interim order to the government to abstain from exerting any preasure on students and schools that do not take part in the surya namaskar,” Rajesh Chand told IANS.

The court, he said, has also issued notices to the chief secretary, principal secretary education, education commissioner, district education officer Jhabua and Rajgarh in this regard.

Archbishop Dr. Leo Cornelio, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Council, has welcomed the order of the court.

HC seeks details from govt on cable TV news

TNN 29 August 2009, 05:35am IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court on Friday sought details from the state government following a PIL filed against the cable TV network that broadcast news without obtaining necessary licence.

The petitioner, former president of Dahod municipality Mahesh Desai, has also urged the court to direct the state government to formulate necessary policy to regulate news by cable network operators. A division bench headed by Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan asked the public prosecutor to get necessary instructions from the government in this regard, and kept further hearing after 10 days.

Desai has primarily raised objections against the local cable operator, Kaid Chunawala, who runs Dahod Television Network, and accused him of indulging in nefarious activities under the guise of news production.

Besides containing the local cable operator, the petitioner has sought directions to the state to frame guidelines to control the activities of cable TV operators across the state, and to stop operations of cable news operators that run the network without obtaining necessary licence from the district collectorate.

However, the PIL also demands that the authorities should effectively implement the existing Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the rules framed under it. Moreover, the court has been urged to direct the state government to frame relevant provisions to regulate the business of news by cable operators in Gujarat.

Are police the most influential? asks HC

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 29 August 2009, 06:12am IST

JAIPUR: Rajasthan High Court on Friday came down heavily on the state police for protecting their two errant colleagues, accused of roughing up the husband of a woman advocate in the premises of the court of additional district judge, Sambhar.

According to a PIL filed by Anita Khandelwal, a practising lawyer of the high court, she went to the court of ADJ, Sambhar on May 18, accompanied by her husband to argue a criminal case.

While coming out of the court room, she saw Kajod Singh, assistant sub inspector (ASI) of Renwaal police station, talking to her husband in a high pitch, to which she objected. Soon, Anita and her husband were roughed up by the police in the court compound.

Kajod was allegedly assisted by Karan Singh, station house officer of Jobner police station, who had no jurisdiction there and had no connection with the matter which was being investigated by the ASI. Kajod allegedly mistook her husband for her client for whom she had come to argue the matter in the court on that day.

After receiving her complaint, the high court had directed the police to produce the errant officers before the court.

However, the police granted them bail after charging them under a minor offence. Earlier, the ADJ Sambhar, in his report to the court, had mentioned that he and the members of the bar took pain to get the husband of the advocate released from the illegal custody of the police officers.

When the case came up for hearing again on Friday, a division Bench comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice M N Bhandari strongly criticized the conduct of the police in the case.

“The courts are blamed for going slow when some influential or rich person is involved in a matter, which is not true.

But it appears that the men in khaki are the most influential people always. We cannot trust these people for the way
they have acted in the present case..” observed Chief Justice Bhalla.“In May, this court ordered the arrest of SHO Jobner and one ASI but instead the police allowed them to abscond…It is a very serious matter. The police administration has played a mischief with the court. Nobody can trust the police for these reasons…If this is the position of police in the court, then we can understand what the police do with the common man,” added Justice Munishvar Nath Bhandari.

Additional advocate general R P Singh, meanwhile, tried to explain that the order to ensure appearance of the accused police officials was misunderstood and therefore they were enlarged on bail. Pat came the query of the chief justice: “Who failed to understand our order, please name him.” Unable to answer the query, the counsel for the state government sought time from the court to file the details under what cirucmstances the accused policemen were granted bail and how did the police fail to ensure their presence before the court.

The court, meanwhile, asked the two accused policemen, who were present in the court, to engage a lawyer if they want to do so and adjourned the matter with a clear warning to the state government that the court is extremely serious on the issue and the guilty shall not be allowed to go scott free.

HC sets aside Mumbai CAT order in Virk case

Swati Deshpande, TNN 29 August 2009, 03:27am ISTMUMBAI: In a setback to state DGP S S Virk, the Bombay high court on Friday upheld the plea of the Punjab government that the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in Mumbai did not have the jurisdiction to hear a matter regarding disciplinary proceedings against the senior IPS officer as the same case is already pending before the Punjab & Haryana HC.

Legal proceedings were already initiated by Virk before CAT, Chandigarh, and are pending before the Punjab HC with regard to a chargesheet dated April 20, 2007. The HC also observed that Virk had “never attempted to transfer those proceedings to the Mumbai bench of CAT even till the final order there”. This means that Virk, now posted in Maharashtra, will have to fight this case in Punjab.

A bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Ajay Khanwilkar-while setting aside a July 14, 2009, order passed by CAT, Mumbai-said it was “unsustainable and an improper exercise of jurisdiction.”

The Mumbai CAT order was in response to an application made by Virk after his repatriation to his parent Maharashtra cadre. He had challenged a chargesheet in a disciplinary action initiated against him by the Punjab government in 2007 during his deputation there.

“The tribunal in Mumbai ought to have considered whether it was just, fair and proper for it to exercise its jurisdiction over a matter that is still pending before the Punjab high court,” the HC judges said.

The Punjab government had moved the Bombay HC challenging the jurisdiction of the CAT in Mumbai to decide Virk’s pleas. The Mumbai tribunal in July had dismissed the preliminary objection raised by the Punjab government regarding its jurisdiction.

CAT, Chandigarh, had quashed Virk’s suspension order of April 4, 2007, and directed all material collected by the Punjab government in the disciplinary proceedings against Virk be sent to the Centre for a decision. In response to an appeal by the Punjab government, the Punjab & Haryana HC stayed the CAT order. Virk then went to the Supreme Court which in May 16, 2008, upheld the Chandigarh CAT order and upheld his repatriation. He was subsequently on May 29, 2008, appointed Maharashtra DGP (housing) and later he moved CAT, Mumbai.

HC confirms bail granted to JD(U) MLA

TNN 29 August 2009, 05:11am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court on Friday confirmed the provisional bail granted to JD(U) MLA Shashi Kumar Rai by the Special Judge, CBI, Patna, in former science and technology minister Brij Bihari Prasad murder case in the wake of suspension of his sentence by the trial court to enable him to move a criminal appeal in the HC to challenge the verdict.

Rai had sought suspension of his sentence and bail to move the HC. A division bench, comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Dharnidhar Jha, admitted the criminal appeal of Rai challenging the verdict of the Special Judge, CBI, who had sentenced him to two years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000.

The court, however, stayed the order of the Special Judge imposing Rs 10,000 fine on Rai. The division bench called for case diary in the case.

Rai was sentenced to two years imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 fine for harbouring the main accused in the Prasad murder case, including former MLA Rajan Tiwari, former MP Suraj Bhan Singh and JD(U) MLA Munna Shukla, who were among the main accused in the case and were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Special Judge. CBI.

The charge against Rai was that he had harboured the assailants in the case as they had parked their vehicles, which they used to reach the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna to shoot Prasad, at his residence.

Directive on APOs: A division bench, comprising Chief Justice P K Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, on Friday directed the state government to inform the court as to what steps it has taken to increase the number of sanctioned posts of assistant public officers (APOs).

The order was passed on a PIL of the Bihar Prosecution Officers’ Association which has sought increase in the number of posts of APOs from 550 to 749. The association also sought facilities for them, including library, vehicles and assistants.

HC admits winding up plea against Subhiksha

TNN 29 August 2009, 12:50am IST

CHENNAI: The hope of a revival in the fortunes of the beleaguered deep discount retail chain – Subhiksha seems dashed, with the Madras High Court on Friday admitting a winding-up petition filed by Kotak Mahindra Bank.

The high court passed orders for publication of advertisement in national dailies by Kotak Mahindra Bank. The advertisement will seek objections, if any, from stakeholders about the closure of the company. The retailer owes Kotak around Rs 40 crore. The next hearing will come up on September 22, 2009.

In another blow, Tamil Nadu’s top court has dismissed the scheme of arrangement that Subhiksha had proposed with its creditors which entailed a compromise formula with lenders through principal and interest waivers. However, the high court deferred the appointment of a provisional liquidator, as an appeal in this regard is pending before a division bench.

R Subramanian, founder of Subhiksha, maintained that the order “admitting the winding up petitions for hearing by the court has no bearing whatsoever on its revival plans”. He said the company was confident that it can effect a revival plan with the support of “all well meaning” stakeholders. Subhiksha will take a decision on appealing against the orders once it receives copies of the judgements, he said.

Subhiksha owes more than Rs 800 crore to a consortium of 13 banks. The retailer knocked the doors of the corporate debt restructuring (CDR) cell to reschedule loans. The deadline for the CDR process to end was July 31.

HC dismisses Subhiksha compromise plea

Earlier this month, Subhiksha’s shareholder Cash and Carry Wholesale Traders Pvt. Ltd had filed an application under Section 391 of the Companies Act, 1956, to seek a compromise between Subhiksha and its creditors to whom the retailer owes at least Rs750 crore

Rasul Bailay

New Delhi: The Madras high court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by a shareholder of Subhiksha Trading Service Ltd that sought a compromise between the beleaguered retailer and its creditors.

“The court thought the compromise will not be a worthwhile one and, therefore, dismissed (the petition),” said Prakash Goklaney, a lawyer representing Subhiksha. “It said the compromise appeal is conditional to a merger and the debts will be discharged by a (proposed) merged entity.”

Goklaney was referring to Subhiksha’s plans to merge with Blue Green Constructions and Investment Ltd, a company that the Chennai-based retailer acquired last year.

Earlier this month, Subhiksha’s shareholder Cash and Carry Wholesale Traders Pvt. Ltd had filed an application under Section 391 of the Companies Act, 1956, to seek a compromise between Subhiksha and its creditors to whom the retailer owes at least Rs750 crore.

R. Subramanian, managing director of Subhiksha, said that Cash and Carry Wholesale plans to appeal against the dismissal once it receives the court’s order.

Cash and Carry Wholesale Traders is indirectly owned by companies promoted by Subramanian.

While dismissing the Cash and Carry Wholesale’s petition, the court also admitted two winding up petitions filed against Subhiksha by Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd and HCL Infosystems Ltd. Kotak Mahindra is not a part of the bank consortium that is working on a corporate debt restructuring (CDR) scheme to revive the retailer.

Subhiksha owes Rs40 crore to Kotak Mahindra. The bank’s lawyer Karthik Seshadri confirmed the dismissal of Cash and Carry Wholesale’s compromise petition.

Thirteen banks, including ICICI Bank Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd and Bank of Baroda, have asked for an extension of CDR after they failed to complete the process by its 31 July deadline.

“The company is confident that the order admitting the winding up petitions for hearing by the (Honorable) Court has no bearing whatsoever on its revival plans,” Subramanian said in an emailed press statement.

Once the country’s largest operator of discount supermarkets, Subhiksha earlier this year shuttered its operations of about 1,600 stores after it ran out of money as it failed to raise cash either from the stock market or from banks.

Meanwhile, Subramanian said Subhiksha will continue with its efforts to revive.

HC rejects bag makers’ plea

TNN 29 August 2009, 03:53am IST

NEW DELHI: On Friday, the Delhi High Court dismissed a plea regarding use of non-woven bags in the city.

A division bench of Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Veena Birbal rejected the plea of one Praveen Mittal, who had moved against the department of environment with regard to the use of non-woven bags.

According to the petitioner, the non-woven bags manufactured by him did not strictly fall under the category of plastic bags

. Claiming that the bags did not have essential characteristics of plastic, he said he should be allowed to use the same.

The department on environment, however, countered his claims by stating that the non-woven bags were clearly in the ambit of the expresion “plastic bags” in as much as they contain 98.3 % polypropylene, a chemical used in plastic.

HC admits appeal of 2003 blasts convict facing death penalty

Posted by Top Headlines

Aug 28

Bombay HC admitted an appeal filed by Ashrat Ansari challenging capital punishment awarded to him by a POTA court for his role in the 2003 bomb blasts.

Sadhvi Pragya moves Bombay HC for bail

August 28, 2009 By: admin

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the main accused in the Malegaon blast case, has moved the Bombay High Court seeking bail, after her plea was rejected by the Maharashtra Control Of Organised Crime Act court. The court on Friday adjourned the hearing for two weeks as the Anti Terrorism Squad sought time to file its reply. Earlier, the special MCOCA court had rejected her bail application. According to Thakur’s lawyer, advocate Ganesh Sowani, she had been illegally detained.

We’re following resolutions on assets declaration: CJI

J. Venkatesan
NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Friday said every Supreme Court judge was following the 1997 resolutions on declaration of assets, and denied reports that these were not being implemented properly.

Talking to journalists here, he said the August 26, 2009 resolution passed by the Full was unanimous. “We are strictly following the 1997 resolutions, under which the disclosures were not to be made public. Now, because of the changed circumstances, we will put the details on the court website.”

The two resolutions adopted at the Full Court Meeting on May 7, 1997 are:

“Resolved that an in-house procedure should be devised by the Chief Justice of India to take suitable remedial action against Judges who, by their acts of omission or commission, do not follow the universally accepted values of judicial life, including those indicated in the ‘restatement of values of judicial life.’

“Resolved further that every Judge should make a declaration of all his/her assets in the form of real estate or investment (held by him/her in his/her own name or in the name of his/her spouse or any person dependent on him/her) within a reasonable time of assuming office and in the case of sitting Judges within a reasonable time of adoption of this resolution and thereafter whenever any acquisition of a substantial nature is made, it shall be disclosed within a reasonable time. The declaration so made should be to the Chief Justice of the Court. The Chief Justice makes a similar declaration for the purpose of the record. The declaration made by the Judges or the Chief Justice, as the case may be, shall be confidential.”

Justice Balakrishnan said the Supreme Court judges had been submitting statements of their assets to the CJI.

Referring to the August 26 resolution, he said every Supreme Court Judge would disclose his assets in accordance with the 1997 resolutions.

He said: “The declaration of assets will take some time, as the statement has not been updated, and the judges want some time to update it. I am giving some time to them to get it updated after 2002-03. The declaration of assets on the website will be according to the resolutions of 1997.”

Asked how long it would take to put the details on the website, he said it could be done in a month.

No decision on format

On the scope of the information to be put on the website, he said: “We have not taken any decision on the format which will be applied for declaring the assets. It will take some time. The whole procedure would take a month or more. Different procedure is followed in every country. In the United States, such declaration of assets by judges is beyond the scope of the Right to Information Act. Argentina follows another method. We are yet to decide on the format.”

Asked whether questions on such declarations would be entertained, Justice Balakrishnan said: “We have not decided any thing on the issue.”

Asked whether he would ask the High Courts to adopt similar resolutions, the CJI said they could not be compelled to follow suit. Even the 1997 resolutions were not adopted by many High Courts. However, “this time I think that at least some of the High Courts will follow us.”

HC seeks copy of judge’s letter to CJI

Express News Service|6QYp3kQ=&SEO=

First Published : 28 Aug 2009 03:36:00 AM IST

Last Updated :

CHENNAI: The quo-warranto writ petition questioning under what authority RK Chandramohan, who was involved in a serious controversy in the matter relating to attempting to influence a judge, was continuing in the post of chairman of Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry took a new twist on Thursday with a division bench of the Madras High Court directing the Registry to produce before it the letter addressed by the judge to the Chief Justice.

Originally, advocate ‘Elephant’ G Rajendran filed the quo-warranto. Basing on newspaper reports, he alleged that Chandramohan attempted to influence Justice Regupathi in a matter relating to anticipatory bail to a doctor father and medico son. The judge had admitted in the open court that a Union Minister tried to influence him, Rajendran further alleged. However, a few days later it was clarified by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) that the advocate (Chandramohan) had met the judge (Justice Regupathi) only in the latter’s chamber and requested the judge to speak to a union minister who was on his cell phone. The judge, however, rejected the plea.

The CJI said that he came to know this through a letter addressed by Justice Regupathi to Madras High Court Chief Justice HL Gokhale.

When the matter came up today, Rajendran told a division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi that a reading of the letter might throw more light on the issue. And the bench directed the Registrar-General to inform the court as to whether any such letter was addressed by Justice Regupathi to Chief Justice Gokhale. “If any such letter was really addressed, the same may be circulated to this court,’’ the bench said and posted to August 31 further hearing on the petition.

CJI acting like dictator

By Sunita ⋅ August 28, 2009

If someone has nothing to hide then, he willingly disclose every assets , only those who has something to hide and illegal they only deny.

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan on Friday asserted that his office was out of the purview of the country’s transparency law,the Right to Information Act.

“The office of the Chief Justice is privy to so much of information like privileged communication between various constitutional authorities, complaints against judges etc. How can all this information be disclosed (under the RTI Act)?” he asked during an interaction with reporters here.

He made the assertion when asked if the Supreme Court would withdraw its lawsuit from the Delhi High Court against the Central Information Commission (CIC) ruling on the disclosure of the judges’ assets now that the apex court judges have decided to make their assets public.

“It (the apex court’s lawsuit) has nothing to do with the disclosure of assets. The CIC had ruled that whatever information is with the Chief Justice has to be with the registrar,” Balakrishnan said, adding it was “this aspect (of the CIC ruling) which we have challenged”.

The Chief Justice said that the apex court’s registry might not have even an inkling of the majority of the information that his office might have on various issues, ranging from those linked to judicial appointments, to complaints against judges and much more.

Citing an example, he said that many a times, draft judgements written by a judge go to various other judges of the bench for vetting and approval.

“How can such draft judgements be disclosed before their pronouncement in the court room?” he asked.

Asked by when the details of the apex court judges’ assets would be available on the court’s website, he said it might take “a month or so”.

The Chief Justice said that the decision to make the apex court judges’ assets public “was taken in changed circumstances.”

But he laughed away a question as to whether the changed circumstances arose due to “mounting public pressure or the changes in judicial conscience”.

On the prospect of various high courts following suit on the issue of making public the assets of their judges, Balakrishnan said he would let the high courts take their own decisions.

“Let them take their own decisions. I am told that the Delhi High Court is even meeting on the issue,” he pointed out.

“The high courts are not under the administrative control of the Supreme Court. Only the Supreme Court’s judicial orders are binding upon them, not the administrative orders,” Balakrishnan explained.

However, he lamented that some of the high courts in the country are yet to follow the Supreme Court’s example according to which its judges disclose their assets to the Chief Justice.

The high courts judges, too, were supposed to follow the apex court’s example and their judges were supposed to declare their assets to their respective chief justices.

Balakrishnan parried a question on the absence of women judges in the Supreme Court, saying: “The House of Lords had taken 100 years to find a woman judge.”

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Update on domestic violence cases, HC to govt

TNN 28 August 2009, 04:02am IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has asked for details from the state government regarding status of cases filed under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act after a PIL was filed by an NGO demanding proper implementation of this law in the state.

A Dangs-based organisation, Asil Manch, filed this PIL through advocate Shilpa Shah complaining that the state government has not taking proper measure to implement the Domestic Violence Act. After conducting a survey across Gujarat, the petitioner has claimed that the government has not appointed any NGO as service provider to help out the victims, which is a primary provision in the law.

The PIL has brought to the notice of the court that the shelter homes to be notified by the government for victims of domestic violence are not enough. There are only 21 shelter homes in 16 districts, while the other 10 districts do not have them at all. Besides this, the NGO has claimed that appointment of protection officers is not satisfactory.

“So far as provision is concerned, the state government has miserably failed in making individual appointments of protections officers. The district social defence officers in 22 districts are given additional charge of protection officer for the purpose of this Act. No preference has been given to a woman for the post,” the petition read.

Moreover, the PIL also blamed the court for unnecessary delay in disposing of the cases. Against guidelines of completing the case within two months, only 6 per cent cases were disposed of in the given time frame, while 82.5 per cent cases are still pending. Even the protection officers are slow in reporting the cases to judicial magistrate, as they could not submit 24 per cent cases to courts even after 90 days.

The court has kept further proceedings on this PIL after two weeks.

MP HC: PIL against North South corridor diversion disposed of


The Madhya Pradesh High Court has disposed of a PIL challenging the proposed diversion of the road route of the National North South Corridor connecting Mahakaushal area to South India after the Central and State Governments submitted an affidavit assuring that the construction programme would remain unchanged as per the original scheme passed by the Union Cabinet.

Hearing Advocate Manish Kesharwani’s petition challenging the proposed diversion of the corridor from Seoni to Chhindwara, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Anang Kumar Patnaik and Justice Panjak Jaiswal disposed of the same after the State Government and Union Ministry gave an affidavit that there would not be any change in the original proposal.

Petitioner’s Counsel Adarsh Muni Trivedi submitted before the court that the proposal was passed by the Union Cabinet, but Union Minister Kamal Nath was pressing for moving the corridor to Chhindwara Constituency which was “arbitrary and illegal.” Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath represents Chhindwara constituency in the Lok Sabha.

Mr Trivedi also produced various documents stating that the attempts made by Mr Kamal Nath to leave Seoni aside. He said moving the project to Chhindwara would add another 73 km to the project, costing more expenditure for the State exchequer and resulting in felling of far more trees.

On August 21, local denizens and politicians had staged Mahabandh from 0700 hrs to 2100 hrs to protest its shifting from Seoni to Chhindwara.

All the commercial establishments, markets, government offices, academic institutes and all the small shops had remained closed. Janmanch was also supported by around all social, commercial institutes, Advocates Union, Medicines Sellers Union, Bharatiya Janata Party Minority Morcha, Teachers Union, District Congress Committee and Transport Association.


Voting through EVM reveals voters’ identity, says PIL–identity–says-PIL


Mumbai, Aug 27 (PTI) A PIL has demanded that election commission should not reveal voting figures of individual Electronic Voting Machines, as it violates principle of secret ballot.

Varsha Deshpande, a Satara-based lawyer, has filed the petition. Her lawyer advocate Uday Warunjikar today argued that prior to EVMs, ballot boxes from all voting booths would be first collected, and ballot papers would be mixed, to make it impossible to know whether a candidate has been favoured or not by a particular locality.

But in the current system, vote break-up of each EVM is disclosed, and a candidate can easily find out which locality has not voted well for him, Warunjikar said.

This may lead to vengeful targeting of the locality by ruling politicians, he said.

Tribal woman wins legal battle after 15 years

Staff Reporter

Madras High Court directs State government to pay a compensation of Rs.1 lakh for the custodial death of her husband in 1994

G. Pushpamani, belonging to the Paliyar tribe living in the Western Ghats, and her two children heaved a sigh of relief on Friday as the Madras High Court directed the State government to pay them a compensation of Rs.1 lakh for the custodial death of her husband in 1994.

Allowing a criminal original petition filed by the tribal woman before the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai in 1997, Justice G.M. Akbar Ali ordered to disburse the money within three months. The petition was transferred to the Madurai Bench pursuant to its establishment in July 2004.

Recalling the history of the case, the judge said the petitioner’s husband Ganesan was picked up by the forest officials on September 12, 1994 for interrogation into the death of an elephant in Velpathikadu, a dense forest around 15 km from Puliyangudi in Sivagiri taluk of Tirunelveli district.

A day after, he was found dead in a toilet on the premises of the Sankarankovil Range office of the Forest Department and the officials claimed it to be a suicide. The Tenkasi Revenue Divisional Officer, on enquiry, found it to be a case of custodial death and initiated criminal prosecution against the forest officials.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) too called for a report on the incident and asked the government on May 23, 1995 to pay a compensation of Rs. 50,000 from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund without prejudice to the petitioner’s right to claim any other benefits. The amount was paid on July 11, 1995.

However, the woman approached the Legal Aid Board and filed the present petition seeking a balance of Rs. 1 lakh which she was entitled to under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995. She also sought a direction to the Collector to provide food, clothing, shelter and other such things.

The government contended that she was not entitled to the compensation as the SC/ST Rules framed in 1995, a year after the death, cannot be applied retrospectively. Counsel also pointed out that the forest officials had been acquitted in the criminal case lodged against them.

Rejecting the contentions, the judge agreed with petitioner’s counsel P. Rathinam and T. Lajapathi Roy that she would be entitled to compensation under the SC/ST Rules as they were framed three months prior to the disbursement of the compensation given as per the directions of the NHRC.

“The petitioner has been knocking at the doors of the government and also approached this court by filing the petition in 1997 for fair compensation and for rehabilitation. More than 12 years have passed, yet the petitioner has not been answered. The subsequent acquittal of the offenders will not disentitle the victim from receiving just and reasonable compensation,” the judge said.

Stating that her plea to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical aid, transport facilities and other essential items as per the SC/ST Rules might not be necessary now due to the passage of nearly 15 years, the judge however directed the Collector to explore the possibility of rehabilitation if the petitioner or her children approached him.

UP Government says will submit abattoir action plan in a week to NHRC 2009-08-

28 18:24:00

Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary on Friday candidly admitted before the Full Commission of the NHRC on 25th of this month that the pollution caused by the furnaces for extraction of fat from animal remains in Meerut is a serious issue concerning the health of citizens.

He assured that there would be no compromise on public health and all necessary steps would be taken to check pollution.

The District Magistrate, Meerut, said that 24 teams have been constituted to ensure that illegal furnaces for extraction of fat are not allowed to operate.

The various entry points through which animal remains were being brought into the city have been plugged.

However, the district administration sought some time to develop synergy with all stakeholders and the other government agencies before taking steps for removal of the furnaces in the city.

Various aspects of the issue were discussed in this connection during the hearing. The Chief Secretary informed that an appropriate programme of action will be chalked out and the action plan will be submitted to the Commission in a week’s time.

It may be recalled that the National Human Rights Commission had summoned Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh, DIG-cum-SSP, DM, Municipal Commissioner, Meerut and Chairman, State Pollution Control Board to appear in person on 25th of this month before the Full Commission on the issue of non-compliance of Commission’s recommendations on closure of illegal abattoir and about two hundred furnaces in use for extraction of animal bone fat in the city.

The Commission had said that it had been trying to provide some relief to the inhabitants of Meerut from this pollution causing illegal activity, but despite the assurances given to it by the DM and Municipal Commissioner Meerut in person on 3rd June, the illegal furnaces and abattoir were not removed. The Commission took up this matter on a complaint filed by Mr. Ajay K. Agarwal, Advocate, Supreme Court. (ANI)

Illegal furnaces posing a health hazard’

August 29th, 2009 – 12:04 am ICT by IANS -

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) Following a notice from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Uttar Pradesh government has admitted that extraction of animal bone fat in illegal furnaces in Meerut city is causing pollution and posing a serious health hazard.
The state’s chief secretary Aug 25 admitted to the health implications and said that corrective measures would be taken, a NHRC official said Friday.

According to the official, the commission has been informed that 24 teams have been constituted to ensure that illegal furnaces for extraction of fat are not allowed to operate.

The commission had Aug 10 issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on removing the illegal furnaces, stressing that the right to health is a fundamental right. It was pointed out that the slaughtered animals’ blood and waste was being flushed through open drains, resulting in the pollution of drinking water.

“In response, the UP (Uttar Pradesh) government said that the various entry points through which animal remains were being brought into the city have been plugged,” the NHRC official said.

“However, the district administration has sought some time to develop synergy with all stakeholders and the other government agencies before taking steps for removal of the furnaces in the ci”y,” he added.

ACHR asks Meghalaya govt for rs 10 lakh for teenager’s death


The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to direct the Meghalaya government to act against policemen responsible for the death of a teenager.

Seventeen-year-old Sngewlem Kharsati of Puriang village in State’s East Khasi Hills district was picked up by police on May 9 allegedly in an extortion case and was beaten to death in Mawryngkneng police station.

The Delhi-based ACHR also demanded an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh be paid to the next of kin of Kharsati.

However, last week, the State Government announced Rs 2 lakh compensation and initiated actions against the policemen.

The state government has found a number of police personnel guilty for the death of the teenager.

On May 11, the ACHR filed a complaint with the NHRC after the relatives of the boy provided the former with an FIR.


People’s Watch approaches NHRC against Police torture

The arrest of a Bhubaneswar based scribe issue took a new turn when a human rights group approached NHRC alleging serious human rights violation. People’s Watch requested NHRC and SHRC to take necessary action against the law violators.


Thu, Aug 27, 2009 10:39:32 IST

CASE OF Police torture and illegal arrest of a Bhubaneswar based journalist took a new turn on Wednesday (August 26), when a human rights group approached Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and alleged serious human right violation.

People’s Watch, a national level organisation working for the protection of civil rights of the citizen, approached NHRC and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to intervene the case and requested the authority to take necessary action against the law violators.

In a petition to NHRC, the organisation alleged that the police officials had misbehaved, beaten and dragged the journalist to the police vehicle during the arrest in a local market.

“Forty one-year-old Biswambar Baliarsingh, editor of a weekly newspaper ‘Ghurnibatya‘ was continuously writing about the common man’s problem and police atrocity. So, Orissa police has arbitrary and intentionally arrested the journalist,” said Manoj Jena, co-coordinator of People’s Watch, who recently headed a fact finding team and met the arrested journalist in the Bhubaneswar Jharpada Jail.

In its petition People’s Watch alleged that Doleswar Nayak, the assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of Balipatana Police station, on August 16, 2009, evening came with four constables to near by Adalabad Market when the journalist was busy for marketing. The ASI dragged the journalist into police vehicle without informing the cause of his arrest and used slang and unparliamentary languages and beaten him ruthlessly. Even the police didn’t allow him to inform his family members about this arrest.

In police custody neither he was served any dinner nor allowed to urinate. The plight didn’t end there. On very next day when he was forwarded to a local court, again Biswambar Baliarsingh had to face the misbehaviour of the police inside the courtroom. The arrested journalist told the fact finding team, informed Jena.

Baliarsingh further narrates the incident before the fact finding team. He met the branch manager of local Rajas Neelachal Gramya Bank of Balipatna on July 25, 2009, and requested for a loan. Then after three days when he visited the bank, Baliarsingh noticed that a local farmer was having a serious argument with the branch manager over a loan issue. He intervened and solved the matter between the two. And than after waiting for more than three hours when he tried to talk to the bank manager, suddenly the latter ordered the watchman to move out the people along with Baliarsingh. He also tried to convince the manager that he was not an intruder rather an invitee by him.

“In the first week of August, the bank officer came with some goons and threatened me to kill if I further argue with him. At that time some villagers were also present. When I asked the manager why he was accompanied by goons, they abused me. At the intervention of the villagers the mater was solved there,” Baliarsingh said to the fact finding team.

In the meantime the journalist came to know that the manager had filed an FIR against him under Balipatna Police station. The journalist also filed an FIR against the manager before the
commissioner of Bhubaneswar Police through registered post. But no action was taken. On the other hand, police made his arrest without any investigation, alleges Manoj.

People’s Watch also demands before Orissa government to take necessary actions against the police officials.

Disclosure of Assets
Delhi, Kerala HC judges follow suit

New Delhi/Kochi, August 28
Judges of the Delhi and Kerala high courts today decided to make public details of their assets – the first in the state judiciary – two days after a landmark decision by the Supreme Court judges to reveal information about their wealth.

The asset details, which are at the core of an intense public debate in the country, are expected to be put up on the websites of the respective courts in a couple of months since the modalities and the manner of declaration are being finalised.

The move by the two high courts came even as Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan suggested that the judges of high courts cannot be compelled by the apex judiciary to follow suit. Balakrishnan, however, hoped that some of the high courts would follow the apex court.

Justice Balakrishnan said SC judges would make their assets public on the official website in a “month or more”. “It is a unanimous decision and every judge of the Supreme Court will disclose his assets,” the CJI told mediapersons in reply to a question if there was any apprehension that some apex court judges might not agree.

A resolution adopted after the full court meeting of the Delhi High Court said all judges had agreed to make their assets public.

In Kochi, the Kerala High Court also took the decision at a full court meeting. The assets of the 33 judges, including Chief Justice SR Bannurmath, would be posted on the court website by September 30, Registrar General D Srivalabhan said. — PTI

Justice Mudgal tipped to be CJ of
Punjab & Haryana HC
CJ Thakur’s name cleared for SC

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
Justice Mukul Mudgal of the Delhi High Court is tipped to be the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court High Court, with the apex court collegium clearing the name of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur for elevation to the Supreme Court.

It is believed Chief Justice Thakur will have a chance to become the CJI and remain on the post for about two years.

Justice J.S. Khehar’s name too has been cleared for elevation as the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court. After Chief Justice Thakur, he was the senior most judge.

Justice Mudgal was appointed as a Judge of the Delhi High Court on March 2, 1998. He has done his schooling at Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi, and B.Sc. (Hons) from Hindu College, and LL.B from Delhi University.

He successfully represented the eight banned cricketers in the Supreme Court as a counsel in 1989, and appeared as an amicus curiae in vital public interest cases cases, including cases of prison reforms and environment law.

Information suggests the collegium has recommended the elevation of five Chief Justices to the SC, including Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar (60), who remained acting Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh from October 3, 2006 to November 28, 2006. He is currently the Chief Justice of the Calcutta HC.

At its meetings spread over two days, the collegium also cleared the elevation of the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court Ananga Kumar Patnaik; Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court P.D. Dinakaran; and the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court K.S. Radhakrishnan.

Justice Thakur (57) who is from Jammu and Kashmir, was appointed acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court in April 2008. He took over as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on August 11, 2008.

His tenure saw reduction in the pendency of cases, with the number of cases disposed of being more than the filed. The rules for the appointment of additional district and sessions judges in the lower judiciary too were amended. The mandatory condition of clearing the Hindi examination in Haryana was relaxed; and the percentage was lowered for SC/ST candidates.

His move to seek the assistance of retired judges to dispose of the cases to cut down on pendency was widely appreciated during the conference of the chief justices and the chief ministers held in New Delhi recently.

Dimpy claims threats from Virk’s men

Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 28
The district court here witnessed high drama when Vijay Pal Singh Dimpy, a co-accused in the case against former Punjab DGP SS Virk, filed an application alleged he had been threatened by “supporters” of the principal suspects to sign on blank papers. Both he and Virk were present at today’s hearing on the disproportionate assets case.

Soon after Dimpy appeared in the court he moved the application through his counsel. “I called up the investigating officer in the case, DIG (vigilance) AS Asthana, who agreed to provide me security cover”, he told The Tribune.

On the other hand, counsel for Virk AS Sukhija said, “It was all preplanned as police personnel were already present in the court. Dimpy has been won over by the prosecution and the stage is being set for him to turn an approver.”

Dimpy, however, claimed he had been repeatedly threatened by Virk’s “supporters.” Till now the vigilance had maintained that Dimpy had been buying real estate property on behalf of the ex-DGP.

Earlier, during the hearing of the case, the defense counsel sought more time for the next hearing as Virk had to come from Maharashtra. However, public prosecutor Pradeep Mehta demanded the date be fixed earlier. “In the eyes of the court the ex-DGP is an accused in the case”, he stated.

The defence lawyer has already challenged the content of the supplementary ‘challan’ in the vigilance case filed in the court by the investigating agency, which had claimed to have unearthed assets worth Rs 29.54 crore disproportionate to Virk’s known sources of income. According to Asthana, the ex-DGP had spent Rs 45.65 crore against an accounted income of Rs 16.1 crore from different sources.

The court has fixed September 10 for the next hearing in the case.

Summons issued to 8 witnesses in Badals’ case

Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 28
After issuing orders to re-examine important and material 38 witnesses in case of disproportionate assets case against Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, his wife Surinder Kaur and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal, the court of special judge, Mohali, JS Klar today issued summons to eight of the witnesses in the case.

The witnesses had been left out, as they did not support the prosecution or were given on the police request. The judge observed that the statement of the left out witnesses had been quite relevant to the controversy of the case, as their statement had been found to be essential for adjudication of the case. The next date of hearing has been fixed for September 14.

HC: State can hand over Shopian case to CBI

Kumar Rakesh/Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 28
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court today gave its nod to the government’s decision to hand over Shopian probe to the CBI.

The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Barin Ghosh said they would not come in the way if the government wanted to hand over the probe to the CBI.

The Bench had earlier reserved its decision after questioning the SIT investigation, which has not shed any light on the alleged rape and murder of two Shopian women on the intervening night of May 29-30.

The Bench had asked if the government wanted to transfer the case to the CBI as an eyewash after all evidence were destroyed.

Home Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar told The Tribune that the government would now take a decision and communicate with the CBI as it was waiting for the high court’s decision. A CBI spokesperson had already hinted that the agency was reluctant to take up the case. “The CM will take the final call,” Sagar said.

In another connected hearing, Justice Sunil Hali deferred the hearing on the bail plea of two arrested cops for Monday.

The arguments on the bail application of suspended SP Javed Iqbal and DSP Rohit Baskotra had begun yesterday and the Bar would make its arguments against bail to the cops on Monday.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has reiterated his determination to unearth the facts of Shopian incident assuring severe punishment to the culprits. “Nobody involved in covering or perpetuating to cover up the heinous crime will be tolerated,” he asserted and said there was no let up in the strong will of the government to punish the culprits.

Speaking to Independent Women’s Initiative Group here today, the Chief Minister said he would direct the SIT to work round the clock and make investigation more pro-active till the case was taken up by the CBI. “There should be no loose ends in the investigation at any point in time,” he said, according to an official spokesman.

Resignation of law officer accepted

Srinagar, August 28
The state government has accepted the resignation of Additional Advocate General Syed Riyaz Hussain, who represented the state in the Shopian case, as part of customary change in government lawyers with the change of guard.

Hussain was among the 26 government lawyers, including the Deputy Advocate General and 17 advocates who had resigned at the time of change of government after the Assembly poll early this year, official sources said today.

The Additional Advocate Generals and other government advocates who were appointed by the PDP-Congress coalition had tendered their resignation when the NC-Congress government took over on January 5.

The resignations were accepted last evening, sources said, adding that the government had appointed Ajaz Ahmad Chesti, Shabir Ahmad Vakil and Javid Kawoosa as Additional Advocate Generals for Srinagar wing of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The decision came when the High Court is in the middle of a hearing on the bail applications of the two of the four arrested police officers in the Shopian case.

MCOCA charges against Salem not to be dropped: Court

Rashi Agarwal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
A local court here today dismissed a plea of the Delhi Police to withdraw charges under the stringent anti-terror law, the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA), against jailed underworld don Abu Salem.

The police had filed the petition on the directions of the Central Government as MCOCA charges were in violation of the extradition treaty between India and Portugal. Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005. The petition was filed under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The Centre had asked the Delhi Police to withdraw MCOCA charges after Salem approached the high court in Portugal alleging that the Indian authorities were acting in contravention of the extradition terms.

While extraditing Salem from Portugal to India, a treaty was signed between the two countries that had certain conditions. Portugal had stipulated that Salem should not be tried for any offence other than those charged against him at the time of extradition.

Moreover, it was also agreed that he could not be awarded death penalty, nor could be kept in jail for more than 25 years. The treaty also mentioned that Salem could not be booked under any special law (which included MCOCA as well) and could not be tried in more than nine criminal cases.

Academic punishment for ragging

Shahira Naim

Lucknow, August 28
The Allahabad Vice Chancellor has punished eight students for ragging in the most innovative manner. They have to read a new book from their prescribed law syllabus and write a 1000-word review within 15 days which the VC would personally assess.

A meeting headed by Vice Chancellor R.G. Harshe pronounced this “academic punishment” for all eights students from the five-year Law course who were reportedly involved in the ragging of a first year law student Anshul Aditya Tiwari at the University’s Shatabdi hostel on the night of August 18-19.

However, for the two main culprits, both second year students of BA (LLB), Sridhar Saran and Animesh Sharma “a more severe punishment” has been meted out. They have to pay Rs 20,000 as fine within a week and have to vacate the hostel for a year.

The Vice Chancellor has also asked both of them to express their regret in writing to the student they had ragged and furnish a copy of their apology to the Proctor of the university Dr Jatashankar.

The academic punishment has been given to the two main culprits as well as to six other students of the same course who were eyewitnesses to the ragging but did not take any steps to stop it.

Speaking to Tribune, AU’s Dean Students Welfare R K Singh said that in the dead of the night of August 18-19 these two students harassed this newcomer who had joined the hostel that very day and took him to the railway station. The six others saw it happening but did not come to the rescue of the new entrant.

The traumatised Tiwari quit the hostel and left for home and was under tremendous pressure not to reveal the incident, said Singh.

According to VC Harshe, academic punishment should be a deterrent for the students as their parents shell out the fine without causing them much real hardship.

Hizbul operative gets life term

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 28
A city-based Hizbul Mujahideen operative, Mujeeb Ahmed, was today sentenced to life imprisonment and six of his associates to 10 years rigorous imprisonment on charges of sedition and procurement of arms for waging war against the country.

Mujeeb, a resident of Hyderabad who was earlier convicted and imprisoned for killing a senior police officer, was planning to carry out subversive activities in the city with the arms and ammunition smuggled from Kashmir.

Holding Mujeeb and six of his accomplices guilty under various sections of Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the first additional metropolitan sessions judge Sriramamurthy pronounced the quantum of sentence for the accused.

He and his associates, including his woman companion Zohra Nishat and brother-in-law Jahangir Khan, were arrested in December 2005 after Rajasthan police had seized a cache of arms hidden in a truck carrying marble to Hyderabad. The driver and cleaner of the lorry had told the police that the consignment was meant for Mujeeb.

Mujeeb was also convicted under Section 6 of the Indian Wireless and Telegraph Act for possessing a satellite phone. The police had recovered the phone from his residence. He had allegedly received from the Hizbul Mujahideen leader. Truck driver Shabbir Ahmed, cleaner Ravindera Kumar, Mohammed Yasin and Shaikh Awadh were the other accused sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 fine on Mujeeb and Rs 2,000 on each of the remaining accused.

Equality in education
Interest-free education loans pave the way

Access to higher education in India is marked by a high degree of inequality and the dice is heavily loaded in favour of the privileged and well-to-do sections of society. Now all this is likely to change. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved interest-free education loans to students from economically disadvantaged families who want to pursue technical or professional courses in recognised institutes. This should open doors for those who are denied the opportunity due to lack of money.

That the scheme employs income rather than caste as a determinant for interest subsidy implies that it will not only reach out to larger sections of society but will also be more widely acceptable. Unlike caste-based reservations, it doesn’t undermine merit. Besides, the upper ceiling of Rs 4.5 lakh, higher than the initial proposal of Rs 2.5 lakh, has been arrived at after much deliberation to widen the ambit and scope of the scheme. In the modern world education is an important means that increases social mobility. It guarantees individual success, is crucial to survival and allows people to break social barriers. Though the 1986 National Policy on Education states: “In higher education in general, and technical education in particular, steps will be taken to facilitate inter-regional mobility by providing equal access to every Indian of requisite merit, regardless of his origins” huge gaps have existed. Higher education has remained a preserve of the creamy layer. Affirmative action like the interest subsidy can provide a level-playing field provided there are no lapses in implementation.

The scheme has appropriate checks and balances in place to ensure that it is not misused. For one the interest subsidy shall be available only once and not to those who drop out on reasons other than medical grounds. However, the proposal to be applicable from the academic year 2009 to 2010 should not be caught in red tape.

Maya police told to be polite


Lucknow, Aug. 28: When an Uttar Pradesh cop calls someone bhagwan ki aulad (son of god) or Harijan, not many would be surprised.

Now, however, that might change. Mayavati has moved to make the state’s police stations better places by asking the poorly behaved force to tone up their etiquette, especially when dealing with lower castes, women and children.

State police chief Vikram Singh has sent out elaborate instructions asking officers not to use abusive language.

The move came after Mayavati — herself a Dalit and into her fourth stint as chief minister — last week summoned Singh and expressed shock over the series of atrocities against backward castes.

She is also said to have told him that she was appalled by the way suspects and those who came to lodge complaints were treated.

The chief minister’s rebuke followed complaints from rights bodies, including one from the New York-based Human Rights Watch in July that quoted a number of victims of the abuses.

The National Human Rights Organisation had also written to the government in May pointing out that it had received highest number of complaints from Uttar Pradesh.

DGP Singh’s reaction was swift. “Indecent manners of a policeman at the police station and use of harsh and abusive language downgrade the image of the department,” he said after issuing the instructions.

But the police chief is confronting an old enemy. For years now, his force has got used to hurling words like bhagwan ki aulad — proscribed under the SC/ST Act — and the obviously offensive ganda gali ka kutta (a dog from a dirty lane) at Dalits.

A retired officer summed up the situation. “Even after 32 years of my service, I don’t feel like visiting a police station in Uttar Pradesh,” said former inspector-general S.R. Darapuri.

He pointed out that having a Dalit as chief minister hadn’t stopped the force from insulting lower castes. “Even under Mayavati, a woman is called chamarin (someone who makes and repairs shoes and leather items).”

Darapuri said police stations often turned out to be hellish for rape victims. “Thana-level officers often ask a rape victim to count how many times she was raped and why she had allowed a man to rape her repeatedly,” he said.

It was common, he added, for low-caste victims to be addressed as “Tu and Teri” instead of the genteel “Aap”.

Rights activists have claimed that any trip to a police station in the state doesn’t pass without having to hear gender and caste slurs.

They also point to the discrimination: well-dressed visitors are greeted with respect and asked to sit on chair, the poor and backward castes are made to sit on the floor as they wait to file FIRs.

Now, DGP Singh wants that to end. In his instructions, he has also asked officers not to arrest the elderly and children under the Goonda Act, invoked in some districts.

But the Opposition has dismissed Mayavati’s politeness diktat as a “political gimmick”. Leader of Opposition, the Samajwadi Party’s Shivpal Singh Yadav, said the chief minister “doesn’t have patience to carry out reforms”.

CJI insists SC off RTI loop New Delhi, DH News Service:

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Friday insisted that the Supreme Court was outside the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act that mandates authorities to disclose information. But Justice Balakrishnan said the apex court would “abide” by any law Parliament enacted on declaration of assets.

In two separate but crucial developments, judges of the Kerala and Delhi High Courts decided they would declare their assets and publicise the information on the respective court websites. Kerala High Court judges would make the declaration on September 30. The Delhi High Court decided its judges would put up information relating to their assets in the public domain.

In an interview to legal correspondents here, Justice Balakrishnan said: “The office of chief justice is privy to many information like privileged communication between various constitutional authorities, including the President, complaints against judges, decision of collegia etc. How can all these information be disclosed and kept with the Supreme Court registry?’’

Justice Balakrishnan’s assertion was based on laws and practices in the United States, Argentina and other countries where the judges of apex courts are not under the ambit of any transparency law.

On whether the Supreme Court registry would withdraw the petition filed before the Delhi High Court challenging the CIC order, he said the issues before the court were not limited to deciding the assets declaration but other classified information. On the question of making public judges’ assets, Justice Balakrishnan said it was a consensus decision and it would take some time before placing all the relevant information on the court website. ‘’We have not taken any decision on the date of posting it on the website. The decision was in the line of the 1997 resolution taken by the full court on the assets issue,’’ he added.

He said his brother judges in the Supreme Court would abide by any law legislated by Parliament on declaration of assets.’

Judicial inquiry into ‘fake encounter’

Iboyaima Laithangbam

IMPHAL: The Manipur government on Thursday appointed a judicial inquiry commission, to be headed by Justice (retd.) P. G. Aggarwal of the Gauhati High Court, to go into an alleged fake encounter.

The commission will look into the circumstances leading to the killing of a pregnant woman and a former militant here on July 23. Five persons were injured in the alleged encounter involving police commandos.

The commission has been asked to submit a report in two months and also make recommendations to prevent such incidents.

The government had earlier volunteered to conduct a departmental inquiry into the incident. When people’s protests surfaced, it issued an order for a magisterial inquiry.

However, in view of the widespread agitations, Union Home Minister P. Chidamabaram asked Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh to set up a judicial inquiry.

The government claims that the necessary order was not issued immediately because no sitting or retired high court judge was available to head the commission. However, the Apunba Lup, the apex body of the civil organisations in Manipur which has been spearheading the agitation, says there was no need to set up any more inquiry.

There were photographs showing the cold-blooded murder of the former militant by the commandos, it said. The government should punish them.

Apunba Lup demand

The Apunba Lup is also demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister, who is also in-charge of the Home Ministry, owning moral responsibility since he had misled the Assembly with a statement on the incident contending that it was a real encounter.

To curb the continuing agitations, an indefinite curfew had been clamped in Manipur. Several women and men were injured in police action during the agitations.

Jail term for couple

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A couple that used fake postal stamps was sentenced to undergo one year imprisonment by a special court here on Friday.

According to a press release, M.R. Vasagar and his wife V. Rajeswari, who were proprietors of a company, had sent letters to 100 customers by affixing counterfeit postal stamps on the covers.

The covers containing counterfeit postal stamps were not received by the addressees and returned.

Based on a tip-off, CBI officials raided the house of the couple and seized the covers containing the fake stamps.

A case was registered against them in 2003. R. Killivalavan, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, who heard the case convicted both the accused and sentenced them to one year imprisonment.

The judge also imposed a fine of Rs.5,000 each.

SEZ: court reserves orders

Mohamed Imranullah S.

“Farmers will not stand to gain much by the acquisition”

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday reserved its verdict on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition challenging the State Government’s move to acquire 1,488.71 acres of land in Sivarakottai, Karisalkalanpatti and Swami Mallampatti villages in Tirumangalam taluk near here for establishing a Special Economic Zone.

Justices Chitra Venkataraman and M. Duraiswamy deferred pronouncement of the judgement without mentioning a date after hearing arguments advanced by Additional Advocate General (AAG) P. Wilson and petitioner’s counsel T. Lajapathi Roy. Madurai Mavatta Vivasayigal Nala Sangam, a registered society, had filed the PIL.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that the Government’s move to acquire the lands was against its own policy of not disturbing cultivable lands.

He claimed that a majority of the 4,542 people residing in these three villages were marginal farmers possessing three to five acres of land with an annual income of Rs.1 lakh each.

“Acquiring their lands would infringe their right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. On one hand, the Government is giving two acres of land free of cost to landless labourers and on the other it is acquiring cultivable lands. The Government’s policy cannot be against the Constitution.”

Alleging that the Government had not undertaken any study of farming techniques employed by farmers in these villages, he said: “Dry land farming is more profitable than wet land farming. The tur dal (pigeon pea) cultivated here was being sold for more than Rs.100 per kilogram in the open market.”

He also said: “In other States, there is an Environmental Audit which ascertains whether an industry to be set up on agricultural lands would be more profitable than the income generated through agriculture. Unfortunately, we do not have any environmental audit. Farmers in these three villages will not stand to gain much by the acquisition.”

On the other hand, the AAG said that large tracts of dry lands were available only in Tirumangalam taluk compared to six other taluks in the district. He said that the three villages in question did not have any source of water for agriculture but for depending on the rains. Only short term crops were cultivated in these places.

Denying petitioner’s contention that no proper study was conducted, the AAG said that the Secretary of the Industries Department visited the site along with the Collector and it was followed by deliberations at the highest level of the Government on acquiring these lands. A field study was also undertaken by the District Revenue Officer.

He said that the SEZ would be a boon to the Madurai region which remained backward in industrialisation, compared to cities such as Chennai and Coimbatore, and fraught with frequent communal clashes due to unemployment. He cited several Supreme Court decisions recognising the powers of the Government to acquire lands.

Accusing the petitioners of attempting to stall the multi-crore project for ulterior motives, he said that the petitioner society consisted of 94 social workers and none of them was an agriculturalist. “We know why this petition has been filed, who are behind it and what their intention is,” he said.

Replying to it, the petitioner’s counsel said there was no impediment on social workers residing in the villages to file a petition when even a post card could be treated as a PIL by the Court. “If this court wants, I can ask all the 5,000 villagers to file affidavits in support of the petitioner society,” he said.

Bench dismisses writ petition

Staff Reporter

“No person or group can prevent a person from worshipping his/her deity”

MADURAI: The Madras High Court has dismissed a writ petition filed before its Madurai Bench alleging that a group of people worshipping two deities at a temple in Jayamangalam of Theni district had excommunicated another group worshipping a third deity at the same temple.

Justice T. S. Sivagnanam said that the High Court could not issue directions to the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police to initiate action against the alleged perpetrators as the issue involved disputed questions of fact, which could be solved only by adducing evidence before a competent civil court.

However, the Judge observed: “No person or group of persons or anybody could prevent a person from worshipping his/her deity or practising or professing his/her religion. If such an event comes to the notice of the official respondents, they are bound to take action in accordance with law.”

According to petitioner V. Karuppiah, 80 families belonging to the same community were residing at Gandhi Nagar East Colony in Jayamangalam. These families were worshipping three different deities — Lord Madurai Veeran, Goddess Pattalamman and Lord Karuppasamy — in a temple in their village.


It was recently decided to conduct kumbabhishekam (consecration) of the temple by collecting donations known as ‘Thalaikattu Vari’ from the villagers. There was a dispute between the community members and around 25 families worshipping Lord Karuppasamy were prevented from entering the temple, the petitioner alleged.

On the other hand, Government Advocate D. Gandhiraj said that the police had received complaints and counter complaints from both groups.

The picture of Lord Karuppasamy had not been printed in receipts issued for collecting donations, he said and added that the dispute could not be adjudicated through a writ petition.

Agreeing with submissions made by the Government Advocate, the Judge said that the Constitutional right to practise a religion was subject to public order. “Therefore, whatever right which according to the petitioner relates to worshipping their God Karuppasamy cannot be infringed but such a right is subject to public order.”

High Court Bench refuses to hear Bar’s plea

Staff Reporter

Nagercoil Bar Association told to withdraw boycott

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday refused to hear a writ petition filed by the Nagercoil Bar Association, seeking a CBI probe into the alleged scuffle between three lawyers and a few police personnel in the Thuckalay police station on August 1, unless the Bar withdrew the ongoing boycott of court proceedings.

A Division Bench, comprising Justice Chitra Venkataraman and Justice M. Duraiswamy, said that the Bar must realise its responsibilities.

“A private dispute between a few individuals cannot be converted into an issue of the institution,” Ms. Justice Venkataraman told counsel representing the Bar.

The Bench had initially imposed the condition of withdrawing boycott on Wednesday and adjourned the matter by two days for reporting compliance.

However, on Friday, counsel said that all other Bar Associations in Kanyakumari district, except the one in Nagercoil, had withdrawn the boycott. Expressing displeasure at the “hard stand” taken by the Nagercoil Bar, the senior judge said: “We reposed confidence in you and suggested to withdraw the boycott. If you betray that confidence, what kind of confidence will the clients repose in us? You cannot set terms to this institution.”

The judges felt that lawyers had to act responsibly and said that they were ready to have a dialogue with the Bar members in the open court.

“Ask the members to come here. We will interact with them, there is no problem,” they said and adjourned the matter to Monday for further hearing.

When counsel said that, in the meantime, the court might direct Special Government Pleader R. Janakiramulu to obtain instructions from police officers, the judge said: “No, we will not do that. He is nowhere in the picture. We will look into the case only if you withdraw the boycott.”

“Use RTI Act judiciously”

MADURAI: The Right to Information (RTI) Act, which had come as a boon to the common man, should be used judiciously to get the right information, said State Information Commissioner Sarada Nambi Arooran here on Friday.

Addressing a press conference, she said that petitions seeking information should be sent to those possessing it. Queries should not be vague or long-drawn if the right information was to be provided. There were also instances of petitions of frivolous nature. Dr. Sarada said that in the absence of total computerisation and networking of government departments it was not possible to provide information instantly.

Some of the queries made by the public related to the 19th century and it was difficult to get documents of a bygone era.

Many petitions were filed for the sake of asking queries, she said. In one instance, a petitioner had sought information about the functioning of a panchayat. The printing of such information would cost the panchayat Rs. 92, 000, which was beyond its means.

The public should realise that the objective of the RTI Act was to bring in transparency and accountability and eradicate corruption.

The State Information Commission had so far dealt with 8,000 petitions and issued show cause notices in 600 cases. About 50 officials had been fined for various anomalies, she said.

Awareness of RTI Act was spreading among the people now and recently there were petitions seeking information on admission of candidates in private colleges. There were allegations that the quota system was not followed and management quota was misused.

The most number of petitions were directed at the Revenue Department, followed by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, she said.

Court seeks report on minority college admission

Legal Correspondent

HYDERABAD: A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice B. Prakasha Rao and Justice P. V. Sanjaya Kumar on Friday directed the observers appointed by the Admissions and Fee Regulatory Committee (AFRC) to submit their reports to the court about the transparency of admissions being undertaken by the Consortium of Minority Educational Institutions for MBA and MCA courses.

The reports are to be filed by September 7.

These orders were passed in a writ petition filed by Minorities Rights Protection Committee through its general secretary Fasiuddin.

The petitioner complained that the consortium and its constituent colleges had indulged in large-scale irregularities while making admission to MBA and MCA courses in 2008-2009 academic year and the AFRC had given a finding that there were irregularities.

Students ‘cheated’

The petitioner lamented that the meritorious minority students were cheated out of the selection process by these institutions. While the case was being heard the petitioner brought to the court’s notice the notification issued by the consortium and requested the court to stay the counselling to begin on Friday and end by September 2.

Additional Advocate-General Sudershan Reddy said the AFRC had appointed two professors each for the four centres where counselling was taking place, as observers. The counselling was on in Hyderabad, Kadapa, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada.

The Bench felt that the counselling need not be stayed and asked the observers to file the reports.

HC orders counselling for B. Arch at ANU

Special Correspondent

GUNTUR: The Andhra Pradesh High Court has director the Convener of Admissions to conduct counselling for interested students during the sliding process for getting admitted into B. Architecture Course in Acharya Nagarjuna University Architecture College being set up on the campus during current academic year.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University’s plea was rejected and admission allowed into the ANU B.Arch. College, the university officials said.

A team of Council of Architecture had given a Letter of Acceptance to start the university after satisfying themselves with the facilities here.


Meanwhile, the Department of Biotechnology Coordinator KRS Sambasiva Rao has got Rs.21 lakh from the Centre to carryout research on micro-organisms living in low temperature conditions, to improve the life of stocks kept in cold storages by producing micro-bioproducts.

The Executive Council of ANU will meet on the campus on Saturday at 4 p.m. to discuss several issues and ratify some of them.

Insurance for employees could be one of the topics to be discussed during the meeting.

Awareness camp

An awareness camp would be organised for NSS Volunteers from the coastal regions of Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam districts on the campus from September 4 to 5 for Krishna district and September 7 and 8 for 30 Guntur district volunteers.

The programme to be conducted by Delhi based resourceperson N.D. Paul would organise the programme for Prakasam students at the AKVK Degree College in Ongole.

Meet on child rights

The Department of Lifelong Learning organised an awareness programme on Child Rights and Vice-Chancellor Y.R. Haragopal Reddy said that the children were the weakest in the society, hence special care had to be taken in protecting their rights related to education and health.

Child Rights activist Gude Prasad said that there were 54 laws available, but implementing was most important and children should be seen as today’s citizens – not tomorrow’s. Department head Shyama Trimurthy was present .

SPMVV law admissions

TIRUPATI: Sri Padmavathi Women’s University (SPMVV) has announced on Friday that a few seats in three-year LLB and LLM courses are still available and women candidates qualified in LAWCET-2009 may attend for walk-in counselling on Monday, August 31, at 11 am with relevant certificates. –Staff Reporter

Advocate-General asked to appear before JMFC

Special Correspondent

It is in connection with the defamation case filed by

him against

Mr. Rodrigues

PANAJI: The Bombay High Court at Goa on Friday allowed a Criminal Writ Petition filed by activist lawyer Aires Rodrigues against Goa Advocate-General Subodh Kantak.

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice N.A. Britto quashed and set aside the orders of the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Edgar Fernandes who had not allowed Mr. Rodrigues to ask the Advocate-General questions on his character and competence in an defamation case. Mr. Britto on Friday directed the Advocate-General to appear before the JMFC on September 18 for further cross examination in the defamation case filed by him against Mr. Rodrigues.

Mr. Britto subsequently turned down the request of the Advocate-General’s lawyer that the judgment be stayed by four weeks to allow the Advocate-General to move the Supreme Court.

Mr. Rodrigues had, in his petition before the High Court, challenged the order of Panaji JMFC who directed him not to ask Mr. Kantak questions on his competency, general character and reputation in the defamation case filed by the Advocate-General.

After Mr. Rodrigues took up the issue of alleged exorbitant fees being paid to the Advocate-General of Goa by the State Government, Mr. Kantak initiated defamation proceedings against Mr. Rodrigues before the JMFC and has also sought Rs. 15 crore by way of compensation.

15 criminal cases filed against police officials


Karwar: As many as 15 criminal cases were filed by women against police officials in the Chittakula Police Station in Karwar on Thursday in connection with the alleged atrocities during the Hanakon riots and thereafter. With this, the police are facing 16 criminal cases as Ganapati Tikkam, BJP Fishermen Morcha president, has also filed a complaint against four police officials for allegedly torturing him in police custody after the Hanakon violence. The officers who were named in the first information reports (FIR) are Babu Kolekar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Karwar, Anthony John, Circle Inspector of Police, Karwar, Bhaskar Rai, Circle Inspector of Police, Ankola, and Manjunath Gowda, Sub-Inspector of Police, District Crime Bureau, Karwar, Somegowda, Sub-Inspector of Police, Kadra Police Station, Karwar, Channesh, Sub-Inspector of Police, Karwar Rural, Raghavendra, Sub-Inspector of Police, Karwar Town Police Station, John D’Souza, Sub-Inspector of Police, Chittakula Police Station, Karwar, Chandrakala Hosamani, Sub-Inspector of Police, Karwar Town Police Station, and Satish and Seetaram, probationary Sub-Inspectors of Police.

Child labour case riddled with contradictions

Sudipto Mondal

CWC charges the employer with trying to scuttle the case

Ayesha had been left in Abdul Salam’s house for safekeeping, says her mother

Hospital authorities have been told to inform CWC before discharging the girl

MANGALORE: The case of Ayesha, a minor girl who sustained grievous injuries while trying to escape from the house of her employer on Wednesday night, has turned into a confusing one.

The traumatised girl has changed her statements, while a woman, claiming to be her mother, has said that Ayesha was not employed as a domestic help, and the police had not yet registered a First Information Report (FIR).

Meanwhile, apprehending that the entire confusion was being created by the alleged employer of Ayesha, a wealthy businessman, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) has written to the District Judicial Magistrate to intervene in the matter. “This is an apparent attempt by the employer at scuttling the case,” said Geo D’Silva, member of the CWC.

In the presence of the media, the girl had told the police on Thursday that she had been locked in the house by her employer Abdul Salam and she had fallen off the balcony of his apartment while trying to escape from the house. She gave the same statement to Mr. D’Silva. But, she changed her statement a little while later and told the police that she had fallen off the balcony after a bout of dizziness.

Mr. D’Silva, however, said that the girl’s statement to him was as good as a First Information Report. He pointed out that the CWC was a judicial body and had taken a suo-motu action in this case.

Although Mr. Salam had gone on the record to say that he had employed the girl in his house and did not know it was a “major offence to hire a child”, a woman, claiming to be the mother of the girl, told the Labour Department officials that she had left Ayesha with Mr. Salam’s family for safekeeping and not as “a domestic help”.

While Abdul Salam told the media that he had got the child to work for him through a labour agent and did not know who Ayesha’s parents were, the girl’s mother told labour officials that she had worked for Mr. Salam for three years, when he lived in Kasargod, Kerala.

Proper FIR key to justice

Registration of a First Information Report is the first logical and tangible step that kicks off police investigations in the event of a complaint of cognisable offence. That it provides basic inputs on which a case is built up is an irrefutable fact and hence any slackness or mistake on the part of the police while recording an FIR can lead to subversion of the justice delivery system.

An FIR is considered of vital importance as the success of subsequent investigations depends entirely on how carefully and truthfully it has been recorded by the police.

Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in its sub-section (1) reads that “Every information relating to the commission of a cognisable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.”

As per its sub-section (2), a copy of the information as recorded under sub-section (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.

Sub-section (3) states that in case of refusal by the officer in charge of a police station the aggrieved person can approach the Superintendent of Police with the complaint and if satisfied that a cognisable offence has been committed, the officer can either investigate the case himself or depute any subordinate police officer for the same.

An FIR contains information about the date and time of its registration, commission of offence, names of the accused persons if known, sequence of events and circumstances surrounding the offence besides the particulars of the complainant.

Keeping the importance of an FIR in view, any bona fide person lodges a complaint with the police presuming that its registration would entail start of the investigation. Such a complainant, if heard patiently, can provide minute details of the offence that may help the police investigate the case successfully. A minor tampering with the language of an FIR and omission and commission can change the outcome immensely.

This underlines the very significance of free and fair registration of FIRs.

In this light, several measures have been announced by the Delhi police from time to time, but complaints about late and even non-registration of cases keep coming in. In fact, this issue was raised yet again at the fortnightly press conference of Delhi Police Commissioner Y. S. Dadwal this past week.

Non-registration of FIRs as a means for showing a statistical decline in the crime graph is an age-old modus operandi, and it is an open secret.

Though senior police officers have been issuing directions to correct the course, it will take some time to change the mind-sets down the hierarchy, only if they are not expected to work merely for statistics. Decisions should rather be guided by the ground situation and public perception.

At the same time, any increase in the crime graph due to free and fair registration of cases should not be interpreted in a manner that triggers panic in the public mind.

Devesh K. Pandey

New Bench to hear Sister Abhaya case

J. Venkatesan

Plea against granting bail to accused

New Delhi: A new Bench of the Supreme Court will hear the appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging the order granting bail to the three accused in the Sister Abhaya death case.

The CBI has filed special leave petitions, one relating to the Kerala High Court order dated January 1, 2009 granting bail containing adverse remarks against the CBI, the Forensic Science Laboratory and the witnesses and the erroneous conclusions; and the other relating to the order transferring the inquiry from the CBI Delhi unit to the Kerala unit.

On Friday even as a Bench of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice H.L. Dattu was hearing submissions from the CBI counsel on the scope of the petitions saying that one appeal on transfer had really become infructuous following implementation of the directives, Justice Dattu pointed out that he had passed certain orders relating to the case and wanted to know whether the CBI would have any objection in his hearing the matter.

Though CBI counsel said the same Bench could hear the matter, Justice Dattu recused himself from the case and the Bench asked the matter to be placed before Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan for posting it before another Bench in which Justice Dattu was not a member.

ATS seeks LeT man’s custody

Mateen Hafeez, TNN 29 August 2009, 03:23am IST

MUMBAI: The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) team that questioned arrested Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative Aslam Kashmiri in New Delhi will submit a production warrant in New Delhi court seeking his custody for thorough questioning.

The team that questioned Kashmiri for two days in New Delhi has confirmed his role in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case. “Our team has gone to New Delhi along with a warrant which will be submitted there to claim Kashmiri’s custody,” said a senior ATS official.

Al-Badr: CBI status clarified

TNN 29 August 2009, 03:57am IST

NEW DELHI: In what comes as a blow for the special cell of Delhi Police, Delhi High Court on Friday asked a trial court to treat CBI as the investigating agency in a case involving two men who were arrested by the special cell as Al-Badr terrorists.

Asking the trial court to consider the closure report of the CBI giving a clean chit to the two men, Justice M C Garg directed the additional sessions judge to proceed further in the matter after hearing the parties on the basis of the closure report filed by the CBI. “Once the investigation was transferred by this court to CBI and on the basis of investigation it filed a closure report, then it is that report only which will have to be taken into consideration by the ASJ to proceed further,” Justice Garg said. The high court, however, dismissed the plea of the petitioners Morif Qamar and Irshad Ali, who have been lodged in Tihar Jail for the past three years to discharge them.

The HC’s order may pose serious trouble for some officials of the special cell as the agency’s closure report had also sought action against them for allegedly fabricating evidence against the two men. The HC’s order came after the two accused moved against the trial court’s order which rejected the CBI closure report and ordered a trial. Challenging the trial court’s order, M Sufian Siddiqui, counsel for the petitioner, contended that the special cell had no locus standi in the case. He also said that once the case was transferred to the CBI, it was the agency which could prosecute.

In February, additional sessions judge S K Gautam had rejected the closure report on the grounds that the facts given by CBI, special cell and the counsel of the accused were “mixed” and only a fair trial could clear the haze. The court had then ordered for arguments on charge.

It was this stand of the trial court in which it gave equal credence to the report filed by the special cell that the HC, while remanding the case back to the ASJ, asked him not to be “influenced” by the special cell’s report. Stating that ASJ’s extensive reliance on the special cell’s report while deciding on the matter was “not correct”, Justice Garg said, “He (ASJ) may pass appropriate order uninfluenced by what this court has stated while disposing of this case. The only rider would be that while passing that order, the ASJ would not be influenced by the report of the special cell in this matter.”

State set to amend Societies Act

TNN 29 August 2009, 03:47am IST

HYDERABAD: In a controversial move, the state government on Friday introduced a bill to amend the AP Societies Registration Act 2001 on Friday. While the government said that the act was being amended to prevent mismanagement or improper governance of societies and associations registered under the act and to control the administration as an interim measure, the opposition parties strongly opposed it on the grounds that the move was against the constitution and that the assembly does not have powers to amend it.

Introducing the AP societies registration (amendment) act 2009, endowments minister G Venkat Reddy said that several cases of misappropriation of funds and mismanagement of societies had come to the notice of the government and since the existing act does not contain any provision empowering the registrar to supersede the governing body of the societies, the amendment had become necessary.

The newly-amended act will help the state to take over associations like the Andhra Cricket Association which is embroiled in a controversy after its secretary Chamundeswarnath has been alleged to be involved in misappropriation of funds in the purchase of furniture, the minister said. Strongly opposing the amendment, TDLP Deputy Leader P Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that it is a breach of fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution. “The TDP government had also tried to amend the act during its regime, but when legal experts said it was against the letter and spirit of the Constitution, it was sent to a select committee and on its advice, withdrawn,” he said.

Other opposition parties — PRP, TRS, MIM, CPI, BJP and CPM also demanded that the bill be withdrawn, but the government brushed aside the objections and introduced it. The opposition parties are now gearing up to oppose the bill both within and outside the assembly.

Court orders action against khadi official for causing a loss of Rs 39L

TNN 29 August 2009, 04:20am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to take appropriate action against a Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB) official who had caused wrongful loss to the tune of Rs 39 lakh to the Board.

The first bench comprising the chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan passed the order on a writ petition filed by G Sivan, who wanted action under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act against one Joshua Chellappa, a Khadi supervisor.

According to the petitioner, when Joshua Chellappa was working as manager in the Ambattur Footwear Unit, the state government sanctioned Rs 50 lakh under the Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Welfare Board.

The Khadi Board had used the entire amount for a processing machinery at the instance of Joshua Chellappa. It was purchased at a cost of Rs 39 lakh in February 1995, but the machine could not be put to any use. The Central Leather Research Institution (CLRI) had filed a report in September 1995, stating that it was no capable of producing a single shoe.

Joshua Chellappa had caused a loss of another Rs 4 lakh, when the Tiruchi BHEL had returned an entire footwear consignment in 1997. Alleging that several more complaints are pending against him, the petitioner wanted the court to direct the DVAC to initiate criminal proceedings against the Khadi official.

Acquitted by court, but caught between cops, jail officials

TNN 29 August 2009, 05:27am IST

AHMEDABAD: It was disagreement between city police officials and jail authorities that kept three parole jumpers on tenterhooks till Friday morning.

The brothers, who were accused in a murder case in 1998 in Amraiwadi, were later released when the officials got to know that they were acquitted by Gujarat High Court two years ago.

According to Zone I police officials, they were working on a list provided to them by prison authorities about the parole jumpers who have been evading arrest for last 10 years. At that time, the striking force of deputy commissioner of police, Zone I, got to know the whereabouts of two brothers who were accused in a murder case at Sola in a rented premises.

“We then raided a house in Rabarivaas where the brothers, Prakash, Babu and Santram Rabari were living for quite some time. They were brought to Navrangpura and were questioned about their past activities. After that, the jail officials were informed of the entire business,” said a member of striking force who participated in the operation. During their questioning, the officials got to know that the brothers jumped parole on various instances between 2003 and 2007.

Then came the disappointment. “We had taken troubles to check on the list that clearly stated that Babu and Santram were wanted in the case. We could also nab Prakash who told us that he had also jumped parole. However, his name did not figure on the list. When we enquired with the jail authorities about the entire business, they checked their records and informed us that the case has been closed by the judiciary and the trio was acquitted in the case,” said Brijesh Kumar Jha, deputy commissioner of police, Zone I.

Police officials added that when they asked jail officials to take custody of the accused since they had jumped parole, they refused. They argued that now it did not come under their purview. “We had to let the brothers go. How can we hold them in our custody? They have no cases pertaining to our jurisdiction,” said the official. When prison officials were contacted, they stated that the case was closed once the court acquitted the brothers.

Fresh FIR against builders of Leelakunj apartments

TNN 28 August 2009, 11:00pm IST

ALLAHABAD: Even after the demolition of Leelakunj apartments following an order of Allahabad high court, controversies pertaining to the role of the builder continue to crop up with a fresh FIR being lodged with the Colonelganj police against Vijay Ojha and Sharad Ojha as well as the then manager of Bank of Maharashtra.

It is worth mentioning that the Leelakunj apartments comes under Baba Sahkari Awas Samiti. Vijay Ojha and Sharad Ojha are presidents of Baba Sahkari Awas Samiti and Sharad Sahkari Awas Samiti respectively.

The FIR has been lodged by Anand Kumar Pandey, occupant of flat no S-303 in Leelakunj apartment under Sections 419/420/467/468/471 and 504 of IPC. Pandey in his FIR has alleged that the Ojha brothers connived with the then manager of Bank of Maharashtra and fraudulently transferred Rs four lakh into the account of Sharad Sahkari Awas Samiti. The cheque of Rs four lakh had actually been drawn in favour of Baba Sahkari Awas Samiti.

In the FIR, Pandey an advocate has maintained that he started practising in Allahabad high court in the year 2000. As he urgently required a decent accommodation, he approached the samiti owners for a flat which was finalised according to the terms and conditions put forth by the builder.

Consequently, two cheques amounting to Rs four lakhs (cheque no 122838) and Rs two lakhs (cheque no 122839) were given to the owners in addition to the amount in cash. After the apartments were demolished upon the orders of the high court and a writ petition filed in the court, Pandey approached the bank for his statement of accounts.

At this juncture Pandey claimed that he was shocked to learn that the amount of Rs four lakh had been fraudulently transferred from the account of Baba Sahkari Samiti to the president of Sharad Sahkari Samiti whose president was Sharad Ojha. The bank did not even intimate Pandey about the transfer from one account to the other. “How can the bank possibly transfer the cheque into the account of an entity in whose favour the cheque has not been drawn at the first place,” questions Pandey in the FIR.

Pandey claims that the transfer was done so that in event of court orders for returning money of flat owners, owners of Baba sahkari samiti had limited liability and would be held accountable for Rs two lakh only instead of the total of Rs six lakhs.

Sub-inspector Ashok Kumar Nigam of Colonelganj police station has been made the investigating officer in the case. Owners of the twin sahkari samitis were not available for comments.

Court frames charges in watchman murder case

TNN 29 August 2009, 02:09am IST

CHANDIGARH: The court of additional district and sessions judge, Raj Rahul Garg, framed murder charges against Sukhvinder Singh and Karnail Singh for allegedly killing Gum Bahadur in March 2009.

A watchman at Leisure Valley, Bahadur was found brutally murdered on March 16, but the case was cracked and accused, Karnail, was nabbed on April 11. The court framed charges under sections 302 (murder), 397 (robbery or dacoity with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt) and 460 (house trespass where death is caused) of Indian Penal Code.

According to prosecution, Karnail, a Kapurthala resident, who facing a financial crunch thought of borrowing some from Bahadur. He along with Sukhvinder went to the watchman?s room in Sector 10, where they slit his throat and robbed cash and electronic gadgets from his room.

“It was Bahadur’s cell phone that helped cops nab the accused as Karnail started using it, and police tracked him to Derabassi,”said a court source. An FIR was then registered in Sector 3 police station and nearly four months later the court framed charges against the duo on Friday and fixed the date of hearing for prosecution evidence.

Transparent govt can make RTI Act redundant

TNN 29 August 2009, 06:31am IST

DHARWAD: Karnataka Right to Information Commission commissioner Tippeswamy said there is a need to train the officials of various government departments about the provisions of Right to Information Act-2005 in general and section 4(1)b of the Act in particular.

He was speaking after inaugurating a workshop on `RTI Act-2005 Section 4(1)b’ jointly organized by the Commission and Administrative Training Institute (Mysore) for the officials of rural development and panchayat raj (RDPR) department officials at Alur Venkatrao Bhavan here on Friday.

He said RTI Act is a strong tool for the people to know what is happening around them and the government agencies are duty-bound to part with the information subject to certain conditions.

“The purpose of the legislation will not be served if the people who have information do not understand the nuances of the Act and their role in dispensing information,” he added.

Tippeswamy observed that little has been done in the past four years to enlighten the officials and people about the provisions of RTI Act and such workshops would help smooth transfer of information from the government agencies to the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries of government schemes and projects.

Presiding over the function, Dharwad DC Darpan Jain said it is pertinent that all the decisions of the government should be justifiable and transparent.

He highlighted the need to put all government proceedings in public domain so that there would be no need to apply for information. “Using modern technology, it is easy to put all the proceedings of the government in public domain,” he said, adding the government is compelled to pass a legislation to ensure right to information which is already there in the Constitution. “It is a shame on us that the government had to pass a legislation to ensure transparency in administration. It should have been a natural process. We are not rulers, we are civil servants and we should act as facilitators,” he said.

Chief executive officers of zilla panchayats, taluk panchayats and gram panchayats and other officials of RDPR department from across the state participated in the workshop. C Ashok, professor D Y Kulkarni and Prasad deliberated on various aspects of the RTI Act and its sections during the interaction that followed.

Assistant commissioner Mahantesh Bilgi, ZP deputy secretary Nayak and additional DC Ashok Mallapur spoke.

Shilpa Shetty’s father gets his passport back

PTI 29 August 2009, 05:42pm IST

SURAT: A local court on Saturday ordered to hand over passport to Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty’s father Surender Shetty, an accused in a 2003 extortion case, for four months.

Shetty has appealed court to release his passport, which is in court’s custody, as he needed to travel abroad for his daughter’s marriage and for some business trips.

Sessions judge V R Vyas ordered to hand over passport to Shetty on a personal bond of Rs 2.5 lakh and asked him to submit it back to the court on January 1, 2010.

A Surat based businessman, Shivnarayan Agarwal had filed a case of extortion against Shetty and his wife Sunanda after he allegedly received threats from underworld don Fazl-Ur-Rehman and his aides asking him to pay the money he owed to Shilpa of an advertisement contract.

MNS moves SC for `rail engine’ common symbol ahead of assembly polls

TNN 29 August 2009, 12:46am IST

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the assembly polls, Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Friday moved the Supreme Court for allotment of a common symbol — rail engine — to all its candidates.

The move was spurred by the success of MNS in garnering an impressive number of votes during the Lok Sabha elections and the party leaders feel that the prospects would only brighten with a common election symbol.

MNS’s counsel senior advocate U U Lalit wanted an urgent hearing on the petition, but a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan posted it for hearing on September 11.

When Lalit expressed the apprehension that the election schedule may be announced anytime now, the Bench permitted MNS in such an eventuality to renew its request for an hearing earlier than September 11. The elections to the state assembly are due before November 3.

The Election Commission had refused to allot a common symbol to MNS.

As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 2005, a permanent symbol is allotted to a recognized party in the state. For this purpose, the party should have won 6% of the vote share in the previous election besides returning at least two candidates to the assembly and one candidate to the Lok Sabha. Since MNS had failed to meet the criteria, the Commission had rejected its request for an exclusive symbol.

Shylendra has good chance to come to SC and become CJI: Balakrishnan

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 29 August 2009, 12:13am IST

NEW DELHI: Justice D V Shylendra Kumar, who with a full-page newspaper article turned the public debate in favour of judges making their assets public, has a good chance of getting elevated to the Supreme Court and even head the judiciary, said Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan on Friday.

Justice Balakrishnan whose immediate reaction to the signed newspaper article of the Karnataka High Court judge was that it was a “publicity stunt” and that those among the judges who wanted to make public their wealth faced no institutional deterrence, is more at peace now.

With the Full Court meeting of SC on Wednesday passing a resolution to put judges assests and liabilities on the official website of the apex court, the CJI seems to be in a relaxed frame of mind now that the contentious issue is out of the way.

Asked whether Justice Kumar had a chance to be elevated to the SC after his article, Justice Balakrishnan in an exclusive interview to TOI said: “He is young and has a good chance to make it to the Supreme Court on the basis of merit once he attains the required seniority.”

“Why alone an elevation to the Supreme Court, he has a good chance of becoming the CJI,” said the Chief Justice.

Justice Balakrishnan later met the press and said that the decision to post the wealth sheet of the Supreme Court judges on the apex court website would take some time as the judges wanted to revise their earlier declarations and be accurate in the information about their assets and investments. The entire process of posting the assets and investments on the website could take a month or so, he added.

Asked what made the judges shed the fear of harassment at the hands of unscrupulous litigants over the details of the assets which was holding them back from making it public, the CJI quickly shot back: “Who says we have shed that fear? We will wait and see the reaction of the public.”

To a question whether any action would be taken against a judge who refuses to declare his assets, he said it was not necessary since every judge of the SC has scrupulously followed the 1997 Resolution warranting declaration of assets and investments by the judge, his/her spouse and dependents.

Would the High Courts follow suit? He said on the administrative side, the HCs were independent units and the apex court had no control over them, so it was for them to decide whether to follow suit or not. “Even the 1997 Resolution had not yet been adopted by some of the HCs,” he added.

Reminded that the Supreme Court had challenged a Central Information Commission (CIC) decision on declaration of assets, the CJI clarified that it was a response to the sweeping assumption of the CIC that all the information available with the CJI was within the domain of the RTI Act and hence should be passed on to the Registrar of the court for meeting queries from public.

“There are voluminous sensitive information with me regarding correspondence with the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justices of the HCs. How can this information be given to public? Tomorrow someone would ask for draft judgments that the judges circulate among themselves,” he said.

SC directs CBI to trace NRI mother and son

PTI 29 August 2009, 06:04pm IST

NEW DELHI: With the police in three states clueless for the past two years about the whereabouts of an NRI woman who fled with her minor son from the US to India, the Supreme Court has directed CBI to investigate the matter and submit a report.

The apex court said CBI officials should be given all powers to trace the child Aditya Chandran and, if necessary, issue a non-bailable warrant against the mother Vijayashree Voora who is said to be mentally unstable and was divorced from her husband V Ravichandran.

“It is almost two years since the notice was issued by this Court but the child could not be produced. Respondent no 6 (mother) is said to be mentally unstable and running around with the child from one state to another.

“In the peculiar and extraordinary circumstances such as the present one, we are of the view that Central Bureau of Investigation may be assigned the task of tracing minor Adithya Chandran and ensure his production before this Court, a bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and R M Lodha observed in a judgement.

The apex court passed the directions on a petition by the NRI father Ravichandran as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh admitted that despite their best efforts they could not trace the mother and the child for the past two years.

LEGAL NEWS 28.08.2009

Jaswant moves SC challenging Modi govt on book ban

Agencies Posted: Friday , Aug 28, 2009 at 1200 hrs New Delhi:

Jaswant Singh, along with the publisher of the book on Jinnah, filed a petition in the apex court against the ban.

Expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat government’s ban on his book on Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Singh, along with a representative of Rupa and Co, publisher of the book ‘Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence’, filed a petition in the apex court against the ban imposed by the Narendra Modi government on August 19, two days after the book’s launch.

The petition said that the Gujarat government notification banning his book had no mention of the content which called for action and added that the ban was imposed without anyone reading the book.

While imposing the ban, hours after Singh was expelled from the party, the state government had alleged that it had defamed the image of the country’s first Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel by “questioning his patriotic spirit”.

However, Singh maintained that the step amounted to “banning thinking” and likened it to the one taken against noted author Salman Rushdie for his controversial work ‘Satanic Verses’.





Delhi ruling class is protecting builders: SC

Submitted by admin on August 28, 2009 – 10:47 am

New Delhi:

Stalling of the demolition and sealing drive against illegal buildings and encroachments in Delhi by a Parliament enacted law came in for sharp criticism from the Supreme Court, which said the protection given to wrong doers by the ruling class has irreparably harmed planned development.

Because of the encouragement and support from the state apparatus, the powerful construction lobby has shown scant regard to repeated anti-encroachment orders of the Supreme Court and the High Courts and also to the master plans and zonal development plans, said a Bench of Justices BN Agrawal and GS Singhvi.

As when the courts have passed orders or the officers of the local and other bodies have taken action for ensuring rigorous compliance of laws relating to planned development of the cities and urban areas and issued directions for demolition of illegal/unauthorized constructions, those in power have come forward to protect the wrong doers by issuing administrative orders or enacting laws for regularization of illegal and unauthorized constructions in the name of compassion and hardship , the Bench said.

Writing for the Bench, Justice Singhvi said such protection has irreparably harmed the concept of planned development of cities and urban areas.

It is high time that the executive and political apparatus of the State take serious view of the menace of illegal and unauthorized constructions and stop their support to the lobbies of affluent builders and others, else even the rural areas of the country will soon witness similar chaotic situation, the Bench said.

The Benchs anguish brimmed over in its judgment dismissing an appeal by Shanti Sports Club, which had sought legalization of a vast expanse of government land in south Delhis posh Vasant Kunj area which it had encroached upon and set up several sports and club facilities.

The SC did not miss then urban development minister Ram Jethamalanis soft approach towards the encroachment. The then minister, who recorded a note dated June 8, 1999, was extremely magnanimous to the Shanti Sports Club when he wrote that the extensive construction must have been made with full cooperation of public servants concerned, it said. Jethamlani had advocated no demolition and favoured negotiations for regularization.

The Bench agreed with the reason behind the encroachment but refused to accept the regularization suggestion. It said: Having carefully examined the entire record, we have no hesitation to observe that the construction of this magnitude could not have been possible, but for the active connivance of the concerned public servants who turned a blind eye to the huge structure being built on the acquired land without any sanctioned plan.





Sister Abhaya: SC to consider CBI petition today

New Delhi, Friday, August 28, 2009: The petition filed by CBI against the Kerala High Court directive to grant bail to three accused in the sister Abhaya murder will be heard in the Supreme Court today.

The petition filed by CBI mainly demands scrapping of some statements made by the Kerala High Court against CBI while granting bail to the three accused in the sister Abhaya case.

The Supreme Court Division bench of DK Jain, and HL Dattu will also hear another petition moved by CBI challenging the transfer of the Abhaya murder case from CBI Delhi unit to Kerala unit.

Both the petitions were postponed for today on last Friday after the CBI’s additional solicitor general Harin P Rawal failed to turn up.






Punish errant RTO officers: HC to state

Shibu Thomas, TNN 28 August 2009, 05:27am IST MUMBAI:

The Bombay high court has initiated a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in a multi-crore scam involving bogus registration of illegally imported superbikes.

A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Ajay Khanwilkar has asked the state to initiate action against the RTO officers who registered the vehicles, including suspension and prosecuting them for criminal offences. This was required “to prevent further loss to the government”, said the court.
The judges have also directed the state CID, which is probing the scam, to submit a progress report in
four weeks.

The case involves 642 superbikes, each worth between Rs 7 lakh and Rs 14 lakh. The modus operandi was to illegally import spare parts, which would be assembled and sold in India. The accused would thus evade paying Customs duty. The vehicles were subsequently registered at Andheri and Pen RTOs on the basis of bogus documents and without proper verification.

Senior Bombay high court judge Justice B H Marlapalle referred to media reports in the case to the Chief Justice, who directed that it be converted to a suo motu PIL. The HC appointed senior advocate Aspi Chinoy as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case.

A report submitted by Chinoy revealed that three RTO officers had registered all the vehicles-Bhajran Kharmate of Pen RTO had approved 442 bogus registrations, A R Shaikh had approved 124 and B G Khandale sanctioned the rest.

According to a note submitted to the court, around 18 other RTO officers were involved in the registration of these vehicles but a file seeking sanction to prosecute them was pending before chief minister Ashok Chavan.

The court has asked the government to furnish reports on the scam prepared by transport commissioner, transport secretary and Department of Revenue Intelligence.






Wrap up slum rehab cases fast: HC to panel

Mohan Kumar

Posted: Aug 28, 2009 at 0044 hrs IST

Mumbai The Bombay High Court has asked the high-power committee formed to deal with complaints of irregularities in the Slum Rehabilitation Authority projects to expedite the hearing of cases.

“Please tell them to do some work,” a Division Bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice SC Dharmadhikari told Advocate-General Ravi Kadam on Thursday.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation, filed by activist Shailesh Gandhi, which was kept pending following the constitution of a high-powered committee by a full Bench of the court in November 2007 to look into the complaints.

Chief Justice Kumar said the court was getting petitions related to slum rehab schemes every day. “Make some schedule so that for at least 1-2 hours every day the committee can hear cases,” the court said.

It noted that the committee was adjourning a case for six months at the first hearing itself.

The Advocate-General defended the committee by submitting that it was working properly. Yet, he admitted, “They don’t have the grip of how to tackle it.”

He pointed out that the public interest litigation was based on 86 complaints moved by various people on irregularities in SRA schemes. Of these, 11 complaints have been disposed of, he said.

The petitioner’s lawyer. Jamshed Mistry, said that the court has reserved its order on the case.





Temple demolition: HC seeks explanation for inaction

TNN 28 August 2009, 04:03am IST

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat High Court, on Thursday, sought explanation from AMC and city police commissioner about non-implementation of court order to remove a temple illegally constructed near Bhuyangdev Crossroads.

A division Bench of Justice AL Dave and Justice KA Puj kept further hearing in September on this contempt petition filed by Jagdish Patel. Earlier in May, high court had asked corporation to remove the illegal structure within six weeks. Police was also asked to provide protection to Patel in case the issue flared up.

Authorities, however, did not act upon the court order and last month Patel’s house was attacked by a mob. Following this, Patel filed a petition in high court demanding action against the officers concerned for not implementing court order which amounted to the contempt of court.







HC bans non-LPG autos in Kolkata, just kits won’t do

Express News Service

Posted: Aug 28, 2009 at 0305 hrs IST

Kolkata The Calcutta High Court on Thursday ruled that all old auto-rickshaws would have to be replaced by four-stroke, LPG single-mode ones for plying in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA).

Meanwhile, a Division Bench of Chief Justice S S Nijjar and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose rejected the plea to allow old vehicles to ply in the city till the pujas.

Hearing the petitions filed by various auto-owners, the Bench said that old autos with valid registrations would be allowed to ply in the KMA only after they are fitted with four-stroke LPG-mode engines.

In an order on July 18, 2008, the Calcutta High Court had directed that old autos be converted into four-stroke LPG mode for plying in the city. On Thursday, the Division Bench made it clear that conversion of old autos should be treated as replacement of old autos by new four-stroke LPG mode ones.

A counsel of auto-owners brought to the court’s notice that the state transport department had issued a notification on August 13, 2009, allowing the two-stroke autos manufactured after August 1, 2000 for conversion to LPG mode by fitting “retrofitment” (LPG KIT). After hearing the plea, the Bench said old autos would not be allowed to be converted to LPG mode by “Retrofitment”.

The transport department had not issued the notification according to the order of the court, said the Bench, adding that the state government should not do so in future against the court’s order.

Advocate General Bolai Roy pleaded that about 1,300 autos have been converted to LPG mode by “retrofitment” and are already plying on roads. The court, however, said those autos would not be allowed to ply.

Counsels of bus owners and autos pleaded that the High Court could allow old public vehicles to ply on roads till puja festival, saying a lot of people, including drivers and conductors, have been starving after implementation of the ban on 15-year-old vehicles from August 1.

The court was, however, not impressed. “People are starving for ban. On the other hand, people will die of pollution in the air. So how can the High Court allow old vehicles to ply in the city?” the Bench said.

In a related development, the HC directed the Chief Controller of Explosives of the Central government to give its sanction within two weeks for setting up LPG outlets in KMA against the pending application of the oil companies. The HC struck down a circular issued by Chief Controller of Explosives issued on December 12, 2006 which imposed condition for setting up LPG outlets and said such sanctions should be issued according to legal provisions of the Explosives rule.

Advocate General Bolai Roy pleaded that at least 50 LPG outlets would be required by December this year to maintain normal fuel supply to autos in KMA instead of the existing 15 outlets. It was not possible for the state government to maintain the court’s order due to the shortage of LPG outlets, he said.

The HC also directed nationalised banks to dispose of loan applications of auto-owners within two weeks for replacing their old vehicles. Roy informed the court that banks took at least two to three months to clear loan applications. The case will come up for hearing in the first week of November.






Will HC judges follow the example set by seniors?

TNN 28 August 2009, 02:17am IST

NEW DELHI: Having forced Supreme Court judges to yield to its demand, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR) has called for a law to make public declarations of assets by all public servants compulsory.

Hailing the decision of judges to put their asset declarations on the apex court’s website as a “welcome first step, CJAR’s convenor Prashant Bhushan expressed the hope that it would “encourage and spur” high court judges to do likewise.

In a statement on Thursday, CJAR said that the proposed law should provide for an public declaration of assets and liabilities as well as income tax returns of all public servants, including judges.

“It is only when people can compare the assets of public servants with their legal sources of income that one can catch public servants who have acquired assets disproportionate to their legal income,” CJAR said.

The argument that IT returns or asset disclosures of public servants would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy was “specious”, it said, since the people are entitled to know whether their public servants are paying their taxes and whether they have acquired disproportionate or unexplained assets.

Much as the public disclosure of assets by judges was a step forward, CJAR said that it was “certainly not the end all of the serious problem of judicial accountability or the lack of it.” Underlining the need for creating an independent institution to deal with complaints against judges, CJAR said that such a body should be independent of both government and judiciary.

CJAR said that there was similarly a need for a full-time independent institution to deal with appointments to superior courts. It said the existing selection system under the control of judges lacked transparency and was often arbitrary and ad hoc.

Referring to an impediment to cases against judges, CJAR said that the Veeraswami judgment need to be overturned as it retrained criminal investigation of judges without the prior written permission of the Chief Justice of India. This has tied the hands of investigating agencies from dealing with complaints against higher judiciary.






Order on autos: HC notice to UT, Punjab, Haryana

TNN 28 August 2009, 02:25am IST

CHANDIGARH: Division bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising chief justice Tirath Singh Thakur and justice KS Ahluwalia on Thursday issued notice to UT administration, state of Punjab and state transport authorities of Mohali and Chandigarh for August 31 on the PIL filed by All Mohali District Auto Rickshaw Workers Union through its secretary Sanjeev Joshi for quashing UT administration’s order whereby it had been decided that after August 31, no diesel or petrol autorickshaw would be allowed to run.

Petitioners had challenged UT’s decision stating that 500 LPG autos will be issued permits and 500 LPG auto-rickshaws will be countersigned by either state and the UT to make Chandigarh city pollution-free. Petitioners alleged that respondents had not disclosed on what basis permits would be issued to 500 out of 1,794 auto-rickshaws. The petitioners said the authorities invited applications for issuance of permits up to August 15 while the scheme had been launched on August 10, which went to prove that inviting the applications was a formality.

Petitioners further demanded that the respondents be directed to allow auto-rickshaws to run until proper arrangements for LPG stations are made in Chandigarh and in Mohali as Sector-34 LPG filling station is out of order and the one in Sector-22 has no gas.

Petitioners further alleged that respondents have been giving benefits to a particular section as they have decided to grant permits only to those who have at least 10 autorickshaws. They stated that a poor person striving to earn his livelihood would be deprived of his fundamental right and the rich who are in a position to purchase 10-20 autos would get the permits.






HC seeks copy of Justice Regupathy’s report to CJ

TNN 28 August 2009, 01:33am IST

CHENNAI: In a new twist to Justice R Regupathy’s startling revelation in an open court that a Union minister tried to contact him and influence him into passing a favourable order, a division bench of the Madras high court has asked the court registry to submit a copy of the report that Justice Regupathi had sent on the incident to the Chief Justice.

“The registrar-general (of the Madras high court) is directed to inform the court as to whether any such letter was addressed by the judge (Regupathy) to the Chief Justice of the Madras high court. If any such letter was really addressed, the same may be circulated to the court,” said the bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi on Thursday.

The judges gave the interim direction to the registrar-general on a petition filed by advocate Elephant G Rajendran against the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry president R K Chandramohen, seeking to know as to on what capacity he was still holding the post.

On Thursday, Rajendran also filed, in a sealed cover, an affidavit filed by an advocate who was present in the court when the Justice Regupathy episode took place. The bench has posted the matter to August 31 for further proceedings.

The matter pertains to Justice Regupathy’s outburst on June 29 when the anticipatory bail pleas of a doctor-son duo involved in a marksheet scam case in Puducherry came up for hearing before the judge. Enraged at Chandramohen’s averment that the judge passed orders only on the basis of prosecution submissions, Justice Regupathy said the counsel was aware of the fact that a Union minister tried to influence him in the case.

The next day, the judge is said to have sent a report to the Chief Justice and it was later forwarded to the Chief Justice of India. The present petition was filed by Rajendran, taking exception to the fact that a person heading the statutory bar council was involved in the incident and that he still continued to hold the post.






HC tells makers of Salman-starrer to pay up dues to expedite release

TNN 28 August 2009, 01:34am IST

CHENNAI: Salman Khan-starrer Wanted has run into a legal hurdle with the Madras High Court ruling on Thursday that the film cannot be released later this month unless its producers deposited Rs 9 crore within a week for payment towards “financial assistance rendered” and raw film stock supplied by a Mumbai-based firm.

The film is directed by Prabhu Deva v:shapes=”_x0000_i1025″>

and produced by actor Sridevi Kapoor, Boney Kapoor and Surendra Kapoor. “The defendants (Kapoors) shall furnish a bank guarantee of deposit cash to the tune of Rs 3.6 crore and furnish security for another Rs 5.4 crore within a week, failing which prohibitory orders prohibiting the defendants (Kapoors) from jointly or severally releasing the film would be in force,” said justice G Rajasuriya of Madras High Court.

The interim order was passed on civil suits filed by Mumbai-based GG Photo Limited, seeking recovery of the total claim amount of Rs 9 crore from the Kapoors. According to the GG Photo director Sushil Gupta, the claims arose out of “assistance rendered and raw film stock” supplied by him to the Kapoors during the production of the film.

The Kapoors, who had filed written statements in all the three suits, have not denied their liabilities, he said, adding that he had letters, agreements and cheques to prove the claim. “All such cheques, agreements and letters were duly signed and given voluntarily by the defendants (Kapoors),” Gupta said in his petition.

“All payments were made under agreements only through demand drafts or pay orders, and all such payments have been duly acknowledged by money receipts issued by the Kapoors,” he said.

They now cannot proceed to deliver prints or release Wanted’ without settling the dues, he said, adding, “they cannot be permitted to act in breach of their negative covenant. If they are permitted to release the film without settling their dues, no sum could be realised from any of them later, and the decrees passed in these three suits would remain paper decrees.”

Pointing out that Wanted had already been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification and was ready for release, he wanted an interim order restraining the producers from delivering any print of the film or releasing the film in any manner anywhere in the world. Besides Salman Khan, the film features Vinod Khanna and Ayesha Takia.






BMRCL awaits HC decision

S Praveen Dhaneshkar, Bangalore, August 28, DH News Service:

Eager to speed up construction work in time for the December 2010 deadline of ‘Namma Metro’ project, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) now awaits the decision of the High Court, for possession of land for MG Road station, on which the erstwhile Plaza theatre stood.

Even as the announcement by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on the Independence Day that the Reach-1 of Metro will be operational in December 2010, the land on which the theatre once stood is however crucial for the project to be completed in time, say sources in BMRCL. Will this come in the way of the timely completion of Namma Metro? No, says BMRCL. It’s Managing Director, N Sivasailam is confident of completing construction of all six elevated stations on Reach-1 (Byappanahalli to Chinnaswamy Cricket stadium) in time.

“All stations on this Reach will be completed on schedule. Works at Byappanahalli station have been completed to the tune of 15 per cent. The Halasoor station is also progressing well. Piling works are on here and the remaining four stations where the construction is progressing between 5 to 15 per cent. The metro stations, being open structures, 50 per cent of works are actually taken up in the finishing stages. Barring one station, where part possession of land is yet to be taken, the construction work at all five stations are on track,” he said.

Sivasailam further said that the first set of trains (rolling stock) will arrive on schedule in October 2010 from Korea, as completely built units and put on trial runs.

The BMRCL engineers say the completion stage of all stations is the key in final integration of the project as signalling, train control, telecommunications, traction, testing of tracks, trial run and finally commissioning of the project will take place.

‘No delay’

Added B L Yashavanth Chavan, Deputy Chief Engineer and PRO of BMRCL, “There is no question of any delay in completion of the stations. While our priority is Reach 1, we are also on schedule on other three Reaches. By end of September, groundwork on the underground stations will actually commence. It is a huge process involving earth excavation to construct tunnels. To facilitate pre-construction work, road diversions have to be first done, properties acquired and demolished. This process has already begun two months ago on Dr B R Ambedkar Veedhi, near Vidhana Soudha.” Once complete, the 42 km phase 1 of Bangalore Metro aims to provide point-to-point connectivity across East West and North South Corridor.

posted by The Bangalorean @ 8/28/2009 08:23:00 AM






The Brethren

Rajeev Dhavan Posted: Friday , Aug 28, 2009 at 0259 hrs

There is a myth about the brotherhood of judges. In India, the higher brotherhood consists of high court and Supreme Court judges. Although the Supreme Court is supreme, it is self-confessedly not infallible. Justice Reddy’s account of Keshvananda’s case is hilariously disturbing. The “right” and the “left” judges opened up in acerbic dispute. If words could wound, they did. Way back in the ‘60s, a Gujarat judge judicially declared that he was duty bound to follow the Constitution not the Supreme Court. The high court judges are bound to follow the law laid down by the Supreme Court (Article 141). But the brethren do not have to like each other. The pretence of doing so increases when high court judges have to be on their best behaviour if they want to be chief justices of high courts or on the Supreme Court. Chief justices are first amongst equals.

Public disagreement began when Justice D.V. Shylendra Kumar declared that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) could not speak for all the judges. Frankly, he was right. The judges were not individually consulted. There is no law that assets cannot be declared. The CJI probably does not even know the names of all the high court judges. True, as former CJI Verma put it, the CJI must lead, but he must lead by example. Perhaps, initially this is a case where the CJI should not have gone to the press at all especially as the issue was before Parliament and the Supreme Court itself was in litigation in respect of the Right to Information application before the courts. But the CJI is a public person and he is constantly asked questions by the press. So he answers their queries. Thus, without being controversial, he gets involved in a controversy.

But for the CJI to say of a brother judge that he was “publicity crazy” on August 23 seems embarrassing not just for the judge but also for the brethren. The CJI’s view that the declaration of assets should not be made public was defensive — seeking to avoid embarrassment for the brethren. But it so happened that the brethren were more embarrassed by the “half secret” strategy of declaration without publication. Some judges felt they had nothing to hide. In fact, this was the view of many Supreme Court judges — made clear in the conclave meeting of the Supreme brethren on August 26. The question in the public mind on merits was: which was more embarrassing, the half secret policy or the full disclosure policy? The judiciary has a lot of power which it exercises with both courage and craft as well as to ambitiously enlarge the judicial power. This has already made the Indian judiciary the most powerful in the world. But, in a democratic set-up in an open society, confidence for the judges and the judiciary has to be won. It does not fall like constitutional manna from heaven. The more ambitious an institution and the more broad-based its popular appeal, all the more essential that the confidence of the people be ignited and continued.

A small needle of suspicion in the minds of the people about hidden assets and the last bastion of the rule of law would collapse. It cannot be overlooked that there are already allegations of corruption against the judiciary. Enter the famous 1 in 5 (20 per cent) of judges are corrupt; former CJI Bharucha’s deprecatory, but flamboyant, estimate. From the Bombay crisis of the early ’90s to the Delhi crisis of the early 2000s and the recent lingering crises in Allahabad and Chandigarh, many controversies have surfaced. But what is worse is not the controversies that attracted publicity, but the rumours; and they are many. The worst way to quell these rumours is to have a half secret policy whereby the judges reveal assets to the CJI, who will keep it under lock and key.

The public are as curious about their judges as they are about parliamentarians. It is the Supreme Court in the Common Cause and Association of Democratic Reforms cases which set the norm for public disclosure. Why should judges not be part of this open policy? In fact, judges who collectively decide lakhs of cases every year have greater reason to declare that their income has not gone up during their tenure. Many judges were successful at the bar. Some were not. Marketplace selection does not always choose ability best. Judges sacrifice a lot to become judges. Earlier high court judges were often appointed in their 30s, now they are usually appointed in their 40s — some in their 50s. The sacrifice is immense — the life of cloistered virtue they have to lead. But the brethren, like Caesar’s wife, have to be above suspicion. In these troubled times, it is essential.

In my view, Justices D.V. Shylendra Kumar, K. Kannan, Chandru and B.H. Marlapalle led the way in stating their intention to declare their assets. We can cavil that they are “publicity seekers”. But, in this case, they have been rebels. They have, in fact, cut the Gordian knot of this long lingering controversy which has engaged the RTI authorities, the Delhi high court and the Supreme Court.

It is to the credit of the CJI that, even though he adopted a variant “half secret” view or “hidden-from-the-public” approach, he was amenable to listening to his colleagues and changing his mind to adopt the “full disclosure” approach. The Supreme Court’s conclave discussion of August 26 also shows the openness and balance that we expect from the judiciary. This is, in fact, the governing principle of judicial decision-making: firmness in decision-making but always with an open mind.

The Supreme Court has also made it clear that judges will not entertain queries from the disclosure made on the website. This stresses that the disclosure is for the public interest and not to enable litigants, lawyers and the media to harass judges.

The Supreme Court and the rest of the higher judiciary have still a long way to go in the matter of judicial appointments and oversight over judicial indiscipline (including corruption). Our present methods to deal with these issues are weak. We need a National Judicial Commission.

The writer is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court






SC assets resolution for High Courts

Maneesh Chhibber Posted: Friday , Aug 28, 2009 at 1025 hrs New Delhi:

Govt is set to to push a law to make it mandatory for judges and their kin to declare their assets.

A day after judges of the Supreme Court passed a resolution deciding to declare their assets and make them public, it was learnt that copies of the resolution would be sent to Chief Justices of all High Courts.

Sources told The Indian Express that Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan could personally write to all Chief Justices, urging them to place the matter before their respective full courts so that similar resolutions are passed.

“Under the present system, the CJI has no administrative control of the HCs and the resolution of the judges of the SC is not binding on the judges of the HCs. The CJI can only suggest to them to follow suit,” sources said.

As for the case filed by the SC Registry in the Delhi HC, challenging an order of the Central Information Commission on the issue of assets of judges, sources said a final decision was still to be taken. “We need to understand that the larger issue before Delhi HC is whether details of assets of judges of the SC and HCs are within the purview of the RTI Act or not. The resolution passed yesterday doesn’t say anything on this issue. It is for the CJI to decide the future course of action,” the sources pointed out. On May 4, the HC had reserved its order on the apex court’s plea.

Meanwhile, sources in the Law Ministry on Thursday asserted that despite the resolution of SC judges, the government was committed to push the proposed law to make it mandatory for judges and their kin to declare their assets. “A meeting will be held next week to decide whether the law should be a stand-alone legislation like the Judges (Assets and Liabilities) Bill, 2009 or if there should be clause to this effect as was contained in the now-defunct Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2008. Since the resolution has no legal standing like an earlier one passed in 1997, the Government is keen to bring in the legislation,” said a senior Ministry officer.

Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily has welcomed the decision of SC judges saying, “It is for the judges to decide how it should be done because they know best what is best for the judiciary.”






Supreme Court to get five new judges

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will soon get five new judges. The collegium headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has recommended the elevation of the Chief Justices of five High Courts. However, even this time, no recommendation has been made for appointing a woman judge to the Supreme Court.

At its meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, the collegium cleared the elevation of the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Ananga Kumar Patnaik; the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Tirath Singh Thakur; the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Surinder Singh Nijjar; the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, P.D. Dinakaran; and the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, K.S. Radhakrishnan.

With the elevation of Justice Dinakaran, Tamil Nadu will have a representation of two judges, including Justice P. Sathasivam, and Kerala will have three judges, including the CJI and Justice Cyriac Joseph. Karnataka has two judges, while Andhra Pradesh has only one.

Justice Ruma Pal retired in June 2006 and since then there has been no representation for woman. It was widely expected that at least one woman judge would be appointed now.

Strength goes up to 28

The present strength of judges is 23 including the CJI. Now the strength will go up to 28. There was delay in filling the posts owing to non-availability of residential bungalows for Supreme Court judges, consequent to the increase in the sanctioned strength from 26 to 31.

The Centre has now allotted to the ‘Supreme Court pool’ the house used by the former President, K.R. Narayanan, on Prithiviraj Road here. It is to be converted into a guest house for judges and the present guest house on Rajaji Marg is also to be allotted to the Supreme Court pool.

As a result, 27 of the 28 judges can now get residential accommodation and one will remain in the guest house until a vacancy arises in the Supreme Court pool.







Use Nehru stadium only for sports: HC

TNN 28 August 2009, 01:31am IST

PUNE: The Bombay High Court (HC) has directed the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to use the land on which the Nehru stadium and the Ganesh Kala Krida Manch stand for sports purposes only.

Justices RM Savant and SB Mhase issued the order on Friday while hearing a writ petition filed by the Club of Maharashtra (CoM), co-owners of the land along with the Town Hall Commitee. The land has been leased to the PMC on the condition that it would be used only for sports purposes.

After the Nehru stadium was rented for a stage show and other activities earlier this year, the CoM filed a writ petition alleging breach of the original tri-party agreement between the CoM, the Town Hall Commitee and the PMC.

Hearing the writ petition, Justices Savant and Mhase stated: “After going through the record and the reply affidavit filed by the Respondent No. 1 (PMC), it is clear that the land in question is reserved for a playground and the petitioners and other owners of the property have handed over the possession of the said property on lease basis to the Respondent No. 1 for the purposes of being utilised as a playground. It is also an undisputed fact that the said premises are being used for other purposes, though occasionally the same is used for playground activities.”

“….We cannot lose sight of the fact that in urban areas there is already a paucity of playgrounds. We, therefore, direct the Respondent No. 1 that they (PMC) shall not utilise the said land except as a playground and for sports activities either indoor or outdoor. All other activities would be expressly prohibited.”

The order also states that it’s the responsibility of the PMC commissioner to follow this order. “We make it clear that violation of this order would be viewed seriously and would make said person/persons liable for action for violation and breach of this order. The petition is allowed by making the Rule absolute to the above extent.”

The HC also dismissed the technical defence of the PMC. The latter had argued that as the petitioners (Club of Maharashtra) are owners of only part of the property and can’t maintain petition for the entire property.

Quality sports events still not ensured

The court case was initiated after the Nehru stadium was rented for a stage show and other activities earlier this year. However, stopping non-sports activities does not necessarily mean an increase in meaningful sports activities at the Nehru stadium. It entirely depends upon the priorities and will power of the PMC vis-?-vis the use of the stadium.

There is no chance of any major cricketing activity returning at the stadium. For, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has recently passed a resolution which allots international matches to only those grounds owned’ by their affiliated units. Nehru stadium is not owned by the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA).

The Nehru stadium last hosted an ODI in 2005. Subsequently, the MCA had expressed their helplessness to host an ODI there and started their own stadium project at Gahunje village, near the Pune-Mumbai Expressway.

Nehru stadium has hosted 96 first-class matches, 11 ODIs, 26 domestic one-dayers and four women’s one-dayers apart from the youth games from 1949 to 1995. And it can continue to host non-international matches. But the MCA hasn’t hosted any matches there since December 2005 due to lack of proper maintenance of the ground and for issues relating to its availability.

The recent court order could go a long way in stopping non-sports activities at the stadium. But there is no blueprint to ensure that it becomes a proper sports centre.






Reprieve for heritage monument

TNN 27 August 2009, 03:36am IST

HYDERABAD: There is now hope for the crumbling Koti Women’s College building, a heritage monument, with the government now deciding to take up repair work of some portions of the building.

This decision came a day after the High Court directed the state archaeology department and Osmania University to submit a detailed report on how the amount allotted for the maintenance of Koti Women’s College building has been used so far and what action the state has taken to maintain and protect the heritage monument. The directive was issued by the court on Tuesday after hearing a writ petition filed last month regarding the poor maintenance of building, which is over 200-years-old.The writ petition was filed by conservation architect Vasanta Shobha Turaga.

“We met the officials from the university and those involved in the project on Wednesday and have decided to repair portions of the building that need immediate attention, like the roof area that has caved in and some part of the walls,” said Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary for tourism, archaeology and museums. He added that expenses of the work would be partly borne by the university management and partly by the state government. “Even the World Monuments Fund (WMF) has promised some grant for the same,” he said.

On Wednesday, OU vice-chancellor T Tirupati Rao, principal secretary Jayesh Ranjan and director of state archaeology department P Channa Reddy visited the building to review the extent of work needed to restore it. The authorities were given a week’s time to submit their report. Heritage lovers who have been alleging that the concerned authorities have shown “little or no interest” in protecting the monument and have been hiding behind reasons like the “lack of funds” to execute the project, say that they finally see some ray of hope, with the court’s intervention in the matter.






Hearing on Lavalin to commence on Monday

New Delhi, Thursday, August 27, 2009: The writ petition of CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is all set for hearing. The first hearing will be on Monday. A Supreme Court Division Bench constituting Justice RV Raveendran, Justice B Sudarshan Reddy will hear the plea.

Along with the writ petition the Court will also consider the caveat moved by crime magazine editor TP Nandakumar.

Earlier, the writ petition filed by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan challenging the Kerala Governor RS Gavai’s decision to prosecute him in the sensational 300 billion crores SNC Lavalin scam was transferred back to Criminal Writ section from Public Litigation.






NCW sets up NRI cell to address plight of abandoned wives

TNN 28 August 2009, 01:34am IST

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Women (NCW) has launched a mediation cell for women deserted by `honeymoon husbands’. The Commission has been receiving an increasing number of complaints from women married to NRI husbands who abandon them shortly after marriage. The cell is expected to work as a coordinating agency that will receive complaints and mediate between the couple.

NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said the NRI cell would render all possible assistance to the complainants including conciliation, mediation between the parties and advising the complainant on related issues. It would also work towards associating, networking with NGOs, community organisations in India and abroad and state women commissions for wider area coverage so as to facilitate easy reach and provide support services.

The Commission has roped in counsellors and lawyers to offer consultation to women who are often left pregnant and shunned by her own parents.

Vyas said out of 10 NRI marriages, two result in the wife being abandoned after honeymoon. “Through the cell, we would also speak to all Indian missions abroad so that they maintain a register of Indian married couples in their country and check on them from time to time.”

NCW was nominated the coordinating agency at the national level for dealing with issues pertaining NRI marriages by the ministry of overseas Indian affairs based on the recommendation of the parliamentary committee on empowerment of women.

The special NRI cell would also encourage, support research and study in related fields like issues of grievances associated with dual citizenship, enactment of new legislation or signing of international treaties and marriage laws of other countries.






Women to get 50 pc quota in panchayat

New Delhi, Aug 28, DHNS and Agencies:

In one of its biggest steps yet to empower women in public life, the government has decided to reserve 50 per cent of seats in 2,52,000 panchayats or village councils across the country for the fair sex.

The decision, to be effected through a Constitutional amendment, means women will occupy 1.4 million of the close to 3 million panchayat seats. The National Commission for Women (NCW) and prominent women parliamentarians have welcomed the measure.
“The Cabinet today (Thursday) approved the proposal for moving a bill to amend Article 243 D of the Constitution for enhancing reservation for women in panchayats in all tiers from one-third to at least 50 per cent,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said.

“This provision will apply to the total number of seats filled by direct election, offices of chairpersons and seats and offices of chairpersons reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes,” she added.

The decision comes even as the government is yet to evolve a consensus on a bill reserving 33 per cent of seats in Parliament and state Assemblies for women. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1996. The Centre reintroduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha in May last to ensure that it did not lapse.

The Constitutional amendment, which is likely to be moved during the winter session of Parliament beginning mid-November, will not apply to local bodies in urban areas. “Urban and local bodies may be covered later,” Soni said.






‘Peoples watch’ moves NHRC over scribe arrest issue

By Akhand

Last updated: 08/27/2009 07:57:50

Bhubaneswar ( Orissa ) : The Arrest of a Bhubaneswar based scribe issue took a new turn when a human rights group approach National Human rights commission alleging serious human right violation.

Peoples watch, an organization working for the protection of civil rights of the citizen, approached both NHRC and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to intervene in the whole case.

The organisation has also appealed to take stringent action against the erring police officials. In a petition to NHRC the organisation alleged that the police officials had misbehaved , beaten and dragged the Journalist to the police vehicle during the arrest in a in a local market.

“Forty one years old Biswambar Baliarsingh, editor of a weekly newspaper was continuously writing about the common man’s problem and police atrocity. So Orissa police has arbitrary and intentionally arrested the Journalist, said Manoj Jena, Co-coordinator of peoples watch, who recently headed a fact finding team and met the arrested journalist in the Bhubaneswar Jarpada Jail.

In its petition the organisation alleged that Doleswar Nayak, the Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) of Balipatana Police station, came with four constables to near by Adalabad Market when the scribe was busy for marketing. The ASI dragged the journalist into police vehicle without informing the cause of arrest, abused slang languages and beaten ruthlessly. Even the police didn’t allow him to inform his family members about this arrest, it alleged.

Describing his apathy before the fact finding team the arrested journalist alleged that in police custody neither he was served any dinner nor allowed to urinate outside.

Based upon a FIR filed by a branch manager of a rural bank the police had made arrest. However when the Journalist had also filed a FIR against the manager who allegedly taking bribe for granting loans and some other irregularities in the bank, no action is being taken by the police. On the other hand police has arrested Mr. Baliarsing without any investigation, alleged Manoj.

Meanwhile the Peoples watch warn to intensify its agitation police and administration fails to punish the erring officials.





Lawyers burn Dhuri SDM’s effigy

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 27
Members of the Dhuri Bar Association led by president of the association Sukhvinder Singh Meemsa today burnt an effigy of the Dhuri SDM. Earlier they also held a march, carrying the effigy, through the Dhuri town, 14 km from here, and raised slogans against the SDM, accusing him of “misbehaving” with the lawyers.

They also staged a dharna near the SDM’s office, which was attended among others by lawyers, including Sukhvinder Singh Meemsa, president of the Dhuri municipal council, Raghbir Chand Thanedar and some municipal councillors.

The speakers condemned the SDM for allegedly “misbehaving” with lawyers and others. The president of the Bar Association demanded transfer of the SDM from Dhuri.

Dhuri SDM Rajesh Tripathi refuted the allegations levelled against him. He said he had neither misbehaved with any lawyer nor any such incident had occurred in his office. He also said that even the president of the Bar Association had never brought any incident of misbehaviour with any lawyer to his notice. He said he could not understand why the lawyers were adopting a path of agitation against him.






‘Dead’ woman comes alive to rescue husband

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
Dead men do tell tales of conspiracies and intrigues. Less than a fortnight after her husband was booked for her murder, “deceased” Charanjit Kaur of Jalalabad appeared before the Punjab and Haryana High Court this morning to tell how the police connived to first pocket Rs 4 lakh from his parents, and then to book him for her murder to save their skin.

And for adding a touch of authenticity to the production, how the cops planted a body and even sent it for post-mortem examination.

As the petition came up before Justice L.N. Mittal, Charanjit Kaur’s counsel Gurjit Singh Khaura stood along with her to say she was very much alive, while her husband Chamkaur Singh was in judicial custody for a murder that was never committed.

Charanjit Kaur and her father-in-law Jora Singh said Chamkaur Singh was “badly tortured” after being picked up by the police a day before the Independence Day. SHO Bhupinder Kaur and DSP Gurdarshan Singh demanded Rs 4 lakh for his release, before the warrant officer appointed by the high court found him detained illegally on August 20.

After being discovered, Bhupinder Kaur claimed an FIR for murder had been registered under Section 302 of the IPC against Chamkaur Singh for his wife’s murder.

“Even the body of a woman was planted upon Chamkaur Singh by Bhupinder Kaur and Gurdarshan Singh just to save their skin. The body was sent for postmortem to Jira civil hospital and was then referred to Faridkot medical college,” the petitioners asserted.

The two said the story was concocted after Charanjit Kaur’s father and the two police officials connived following a minor matrimonial altercation between Chamkaur Singh and his daughter.

Building up a case for CBI probe, they concluded, “Keeping in view the peculiar facts and circumstances of the matter, particularly the fact that police officials, including the top brass, are involved, minute consideration is necessary.

Hence, the investigation of the case must be handed over to the CBI”. Taking up the matter, Justice Mittal has put the state and other respondents on notice for September 9.





Declaration of assets by information commissioners sought

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
The convener of RTI Users Association, HC Arora, has written to Wajahat Habibullah, Chief of the Central Information Commission, asking the information commissioners in Punjab to make their assets public.

“The act of the Supreme Court judges to make their assets public is a revolutionary step that would definitely enhance the prestige of the judicial system, and introduce transparency in the judicial system. The HC judges are expected to follow suit,” he wrote.

“Through this letter, therefore, I appeal to all the information commissioners to make their assets public by putting those on the official website of the State Information Commission, by following the example set up by the Supreme Court Judges ,” he added.





Immoral Trafficking Act
Magistrate booked

Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Samalkha, August 27
A metropolitan magistrate, who was allegedly enjoying the hospitality of a call girl (alleged to be a minor) in a small rented room here last night, was rounded up by the police after neighbours informed it about the suspicious activities going on there.

After receiving a call from residents of the Punjabi Colony, the police raided the room that had been rented by Subhash Duhan and caught three persons and a girl there.

All accused were taken to the local police station. These included the metropolitan magistrate, a resident of Delhi; Subhash Duhan, son of Jeet Ram and resident of Sonepat; and Shamsher Singh, son of Surat Singh and resident of Bhiwani.

The police also rounded up the girl, who was alleged to be a minor and belonged to West Bengal.

It is learnt that the metropolitan magistrate was posted at the Tis Hazari Court complex in Delhi. He had come here in his Santro car that even had a name-plate highlighting his designation.

The Samalkha police registered an FIR against all accused, including the magistrate.

However, keeping in view the privileges enjoyed by a magistrate, he was not placed under arrest by the police. Samalkha DSP Wazir Singh Sheoran said the police had sought permission from the Delhi High Court to proceed against the magistrate.

He, however, refused to reveal whether the magistrate was being kept in police custody or had been let off.

Meanwhile, rumours were doing the rounds that the girl, along with whom the three persons had been rounded up, had been brought here by paying her Rs 20,000 a week and that she was a minor.

The police later took the girl along with the accused for medical examination to the Civil Hospital at the district headquarters to confirm whether she was a minor.

The report is yet to be received. She was at present putting up at Noida.

According to information gathered by The Tribune, the metropolitan magistrate was a friend of Subhash Duhan, who runs an NGO by the name of Lok Kalayan Foundation. Shamsher was said to a distant relative of Subhash. The NGO of Subhash runs computer centres and sewing training centres in the region.

The case against the accused was registered under Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Immoral Trafficking Act of 1956.

Later, Subhash, Shamsher and the girl were produced before a local court, which sent them to 14-day judicial custody.





HC transfers murder case to CBI

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
When it comes to investigation of criminal cases, the prosecution in Haryana can show different limbs as amputated in the photographs and medico legal report (MLR) of a murdered man.

Taking on record the snapshots and the report, and satisfied that the murder case of Palwal resident Mohit Manchanda requires probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, Justice Augustine George Masih of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has transferred the investigations to the premier investigating agency with the state of Haryana’s consent.

Manchanda’s body was found in Faridabad and a first information report was registered in the matter on May 1, 2006, under Section 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC at the GRP police station in Faridabad.

As the matter came up for hearing, petitioner’s counsel contended the bare perusal of the MLR would show how “scantly the case has been dealt with by the prosecution”. He added the “photographs which have been attached with the petition clearly indicate that the amputations as shown in the MLR of the limbs are diametrically different from what is apparent from the photographs that have been taken by the prosecution itself during the investigation”.

Counsel Dr Surya Parkash added the real culprits were not being brought to book, and the investigation in the case had been handled without any care and caution. Elaborating, he said the police had left out the accused named in the FIR during the investigations; and no result was forthcoming.

As the case came up for hearing before Justice Masih, state counsel said Haryana “consents to and does not have any objection, if the matter is referred to the CBI for proper investigation.

“In the light of this, the court is satisfied that the matter requires to be investigated by the CBI, and since the state of Haryana has also consented thereto, a direction is issued to the state of Haryana to take necessary steps in accordance with the law.”

Justice Masih directed an officer not below the rank of a DSP would conduct the investigation. The case will now come up for further hearing on November 10.






High Court acquits militant

Jammu, August 27
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court today quashed a lower court’s judgement awarding life imprisonment to a suspected militant, ordering his immediate release.

A Division Bench, comprising Justices Hakim Imtiyaz Hussain and J P Singh, acquitted Bashir Ahmed, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Principal Sessions Judge, Kathua, for allegedly being instrumental in the murder of a policeman, Parshotam Singh, on October 13, 2007.

After hearing counsel for the appellant and the Additional Advocate-General (AAG) for the state, the Bench observed that there was no sufficient evidence against Ahmed, who was also booked under the Arms Act.

The Bench said it stood established that militants, who were present at Khandara Top hiding in a ‘dhok’ (high-altitude mud house), fired upon a police party which reached there, killing Parshotam Singh. But it could not be proved that there was a conspiracy between the militants and Ahmed in the cop’s killing.

Justice Hussain observed that it was difficult to believe the prosecution version that it was at the instance of Ahmed that militants opened fire on the police party.

It was also alleged that RDX was seized from Ahmed’s house, but the prosecution had not produced any evidence in this regard, the Bench said and directed that the appellant shall be set free forthwith if not required in any other case. — PTI






Bails rejected; cops disappear from court

Our Correspondent

Sundernagar, August 27
Sessions Judge DK Sharma today rejected bail applications of 11 policemen who had wrongly withdrawn travel allowance (TA) while on government duty in 2003-2004. Though the order was announced in the presence of the investigation officer, all accused disappeared from the court following the order and could not be arrested so far.

According to sources, 25 police officials of the 3rd Battalion, Pandoh, had wrongly claimed the TA and the total sum amounted to Rs 8.2 lakh. The anomaly was noticed in 2006 during a routine audit of the department and soon after the police registered a case under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 120B of the IPC against these officials.

The police had asked the accused to join the investigation of the case, but instead they filed applications for pre-arrest bails before the Sessions Judge, Mandi.

While rejecting the bail applications, the court held since the police officials were involved in the corruption case, hence custodial interrogation was needed for further investigation.

According to Mandi DSP Narinder Kumar, who is investigating the case, none of the police officials surrendered following the rejection of bail applications and that he had sent his teams to nab the accused.






SC reserves judgement on quota row in UPSC

New Delhi, August 27
The SC today reserved its judgement on the contentious issue whether candidates belonging to reserved categories selected for union civil services on merit should be appointed against reserved posts or under the general quota.

The hearing before a five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justices SH Kapadia, RV Raveendran, P Sudershan Reddy and P Sathasivam, which ended after six days of marathon arguments, assumes significance as it would have bearing upon the procedure for allotment of posts adopted by UPSC as well as aggrieved candidates.

While referring the matter, the SC had said “an authoritative pronouncement was needed on the issue”. Among the various contentious issues, the Bench was to decide whether reserved category candidates who are selected on merit and placed in list of general or unreserved category candidates could be considered as reserved category candidates at the time of service allocation. — PTI






Monthly HC aid for parents


Cuttack, Aug. 27: In an unprecedented ruling, Orissa High Court today directed the government to pay a monthly relief of Rs 1,500 to both the father and the mother of a convict, who died while serving a sentence at Choudwar circle jail, for the rest of their lives.

A small-time farmer Chaityana Behera, 71, and Labani, 60, have been living in penury since their son died. Chaitanya’s right hand, right from the shoulder, was amputated after a malignant tumour spread.

Krushna Chandra Behera, 43, of Nurukesabarini village in Badamba area of Cuttack, was sentenced for life in a case of dowry death in 2003. He died on June 10, 2008, after another jail convict stabbed him. His parents demanded social security of Rs 10 lakh. A two-judge bench said the government should pay Rs 1,500 each to Krushna’s father and mother before the 10th each month.

“Perhaps for the first time a court has awarded lifetime relief,” said the petitioners counsel Amulya Kumar Budhia.

“In such cases courts generally award a one-time compensation,” he added.

Holding jail officers prima facie guilty for the death, the court said that the state was duty bound to protect the fundamental rights of prisoners.

Krushna was stabbed by Pratap Khatei, a lifer, with a broken steel utensil (karchuli) used to serve food. He was found bleeding from his stomach near a jail lavatory in ward number-19 around 8.15pm on June 9.

The lifer was shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital after preliminary medical attention and was declared dead around 9.05am in the emergency ward. He had suffered lung ruptures. Later, unconfirmed reports of a tiff between the two surfaced.





Justice on a roll in Dumka

- 11500 cases in 21 days in mobile court SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA

Ranchi, Aug. 27: When justice was wheeled into Dumka, more than 11,000 petitions were filed with the mobile court in 21 days and most of them were to seek wages that remained unpaid because of faulty implementation of well-meaning government schemes, including the one under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

An initiative of Jharkhand State Legal Services Authority (Jhalsa), that was unveiled in Ranchi on July 5, the swanky air-conditioned bus, armed with a judicial team, is equipped with pinewood tables and swivel chairs for magistrates and advocates to use while hearing and deciding on cases.

It’s first real stop for imparting justice was in Dumka between July 21 to 31, and Santhal tribals, always reluctant to making frequent trips to courts in towns and losing a day’s wages in the process, found it to be a useful tool.

As many as 11,500 petitions were filed with the mobile court in the 21 days the van toured villages and blocks in Dumka district — between July 21 and July 31 and between August 16 and August 25.

Interestingly, land disputes or criminal cases were few. “Most cases related to recovering dues under the central schemes like NREGA, Indira Awas Yojana, maintenance and welfare of parents, Prevention of Witch Practices Act etc,” pointed out P.K. Srivastava, the Dumka district judge-cum-chairman of the district legal services authority (DLSA).

Between July 21 and July 31, the court received 3,243 applications and that was because, as Srivastava pointed out, awareness was poor about judicial intervention in social schemes. “But, grievances poured in when the court hit the road again on August 16,” he said.

After its launch in Ranchi on July 5, the mobile court first went to Deoghar during the time of the Shravan Mela (from July 8 to July 20) to spread legal awareness among kanwarias.

On July 21, the mobile court shifted to neighbouring Dumka where it began hearing cases and then went on to tour the district till July 31. Then from August 1 to 14 it shifted to Deoghar where it heard cases.

Again from August 16, the mobile justice van was back in Dumka and till August 25, it had logged as many as 11, 500 applications.

The DLSA chairman pointed out that 10 per cent of all the cases (around 1,100) related to irregularities in implementing the rural job scheme.

“The grievances related to job cards not being issued, or work not allotted to those with job cards or non-payment of wages,” he said, commending the positive role of the district administration in ensuring the success of the venture.






Key witness in the 26/11 case goes ‘missing’

Mumbai, Aug 28, PTI:

A key witness in the 26/11 attacks case who had deposed against accused Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed at the trial failed to appear before the court on Friday with the prosecution saying that he was “missing”.
The witness, Nurudin Shaikh, on Thursday told the court that the accused — Faheem and Sabauddin — had met him in Nepal and in his presence they discussed about the maps of some locations in Mumbai, which were later targeted by militants during the November 26 attacks last year.

The court had called the witness on Friday for cross-examination at 11 AM but he failed to turn up.

Special public prosecutor Ujjawal Nikam told the court that crime branch officials had gone to Goregaon residence of the witness to fetch him but his wife had said that Shaikh had left home early morning, saying that he has to go to the court.

“This is a serious matter,” judge M L Tahaliyani observed and said he would decide later on what steps the court should take in the matter.

Nikam also said that the identity of the witness had been kept secret earlier and was disclosed to the defence lawyer only on Thursday for cross-examination.

According to crime branch, the witness is a childhood friend of Faheem and is staying in the same locality where Fahim stayed in the city.

Faheem and Sabauddin, both Indian nationals, are facing trial along with Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab.

Shaikh on Thursday had told the court that maps of some locations in Mumbai were made by the duo at the instance of wanted accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

Shaikh had gone on a holiday in February 2008 to Nepal where he met his childhood friend Faheem in a market, the witness said. Faheem then took him to his guest house for a chat, the court was told.

Faheem , however, disputed the version of the witness that he was his childhood friend and said he had never met Shaikh before.

The case of the prosecution is that Pakistan-based Lakhvi, chief of LeT operations, was one of the masterminds of 26/11 terror attacks.

On the instructions of LeT, Faheem had drawn maps by hand after conducting a recee and these were handed over to Sabauddin who in turn gave them to 26/11 conspirators.





Hizbul Mujahideen man gets life term for sedition

Hyderabad, Aug 28, IANS:

A city court Friday sentenced Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Mujeeb Ahmed to life imprisonment and six others to 10 years on charges of sedition and collecting arms with intention of waging war against the country.

The first additional metropolitan sessions judge pronounced the quantum of sentence for the accused who were held guilty Thursday.

Mujeeb, the self-styled commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, and his associates were  planning to carry out subversive activities in Hyderabad with the arms and ammunition smuggled from Kashmir, the prosecution said.

In December 2005, Rajasthan police had seized a cache of arms including Kalashnikov assault rifles, 229 cartridges and 15 detonators hidden in a truck carrying marble to Hyderabad.

Mujeeb, a resident of Hyderabad and a life convict in the killing of a police officer, pleaded not guilty.

All the accused including Mujeeb’s female companion Zohra Nishat and  brother-in-law Jahangir Khan were found guilty under sections 122 and 124 (A) of the Indian Penal Code and 23 (ii) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Considered to be a close follower of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, Mujeeb was also convicted under section 6 of the Indian Wireless Telegraph Act for possessing a satellite phone, which he allegedly received from the Hizbul Mujahideen leader.

The court also imposed Rs.10,000 fine on Mujeeb alias Ahmed Bhai.
Truck driver Shabbir Ahmed, cleaner Ravindera Kumar, Mohammed Yasin and Shaikh Awadh were the other accused sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The court imposed a fine of Rs.2,000 on each of the six accused.
Seven accused including Mujeeb were arrested in the case while nine others still remained at large. The trial began in 2007.

Mujeeb, known as Amer-e-Deccan among Hizbul Mujahideen circles, was earlier sentenced to life imprisonment for gunning down additional superintendent of police Krishna Prasad here in 1992. The Andhra Pradesh government released him on remission on Independence Day in 2004.
After release from prison, he allegedly reactivated his links with Hizbul Mujahideen  and other terror groups. Police claimed that he also produced several CDs in which he appealed for funds for his terror operations.





Thirty VIPs removed from X-category security list

New Delhi, Aug 28 (PTI):
After dithering for five years, the Home Ministry has removed X-category security to 30 individuals, including former Chief Justice of India Y S Sabarwal, triggering concern among protectees who are now making all out efforts to retain their police cover.
Home Minister P Chidambaram, who himself has refused to take any security, took the decision as he is of the opinion that security should be provided only to those who either face credible threats or are holding Constitutional posts.

With this, the list of X-Category protectees has come down to 20 after a detailed review by security and intelligence agencies, Home Ministry officials said.
The X-category protectees are given one personal security officer for eight hours, which means sparing three policemen for an individual.

The drill will now be followed for VIPs enjoying Y, Z and Z-plus category security, they said.
As the news of security withdrawal of X-category protectees spread, the Home Ministry was flooded with requests of VIPs to continue their police cover.

“VIPs from various backgrounds and mostly politicians are trying all possible connections to prove the genuineness of their security cover before the Home Minister,” a senior official said.

During a high-level review meeting convened by the Home Ministry, withdrawal of elite NSG cover for some VIPs including UP Chief Minister Mayawati, former Union Minister Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi was recommended but a final decision was to be taken by Chidambaram.

However, this triggered a massive protest from the political parties and the Government said in the Lok Sabha that no hasty decision would be taken in withdrawing security of VIPs.
The withdrawal of X-category security is seen as the first step taken by Chidambaram in the direction of rationalising of security cover for VIPs.
Security of nearly 200 VIPs who are central protectees was reviewed during the meeting. These VIPs are guarded either by NSG or personnel of some other para-military forces.

The meeting felt that security of former Ministers Shivraj Patil, Ram Vilas Paswan and Jagmohan be downgraded while in the case of former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, there should be a complete withdrawal.
The meeting had recommended that NSG security to BJP leader L K Advani, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anti-terrorist forum leader M S Bitta should remain, the sources said.
The expenditure incurred due to the VIP security was also a constant financial burden on the Ministry, they said.
In some of the cases, it was observed that VIPs were enjoying state security more as a status symbol and not due to any threat perception, they said.





SC to commence final hearing on Ambani gas row on Oct 20

New Delhi, Aug 28, PTI:
The Supreme Court on Friday decided to commence final hearing on the high-profile gas dispute between the group firms of Mukesh Ambani and his younger brother Anil from October 20.

The government’s petition on the issue and those of various power producers, mainly from Andhra Pradesh, and the Fertiliser Corporation of India would also be heard on that day.

A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan posted the matter for final hearing after RNRL mentioned that the matter, which was originally scheduled for September one, may not be taken up that day by the bench as the Chief Justice would be leading the Constitutional Bench.

RNRL is fighting to get RIL to supply gas to it at USD 2.34 per mmBtu, the Mukesh Ambani group company has maintained that the price of the fuel needs to be approved by the government.

The government has filed a Special Leave Petition seeking to assert its right on the national resource. It has also sought to declare as null and void that part of the Ambani family MoU that provides for dividing natural gas from KG-D6 fields between RIL and RNRL.

Counsel for all the parties, including Mukesh Ambani-run RIL and Anil Ambani group firm RNRL, said that they were ready for daily hearing of the matter from October 20.
While senior counsel Harish Salve, representing RIL, suggested the date, the counsel for both RNRL as well as the government said that they do not have any objection.
“We will start on that day and will finish as soon as possible,” Salve said.

The bench also directed that all the parties to file all the documents including responses and rejoinders by that date.




Bangalore law school shuts over swine flu fear

Bangalore, Aug 28, IANS:
The National Law School of India University (NLSIU) here has shut down for 10 days to prevent the spread of the influenza A H1N1 virus that has killed 20 people in Karnataka. The decision to close down the famous law school follows several educational institutions here closing down for a few days.

“The decision was taken as a precautionary measure. The university decided to close for 10 days, so that the entire campus can be fumigated. The fumigation process has already started,” NLSIU Vice Chancellor R. Venkata Rao told IANS.
The university decided to close in the wake of a swine flu death in its neighbourhood Nagarabhavi here last week. The university will reopen Aug 30.
However, none of the university students have tested positive for the virus during their screening recently at the Mallige Hospital.

“We don’t want to take any chances. When the university reopens, students will be asked to bring their medical certificate. We may further screen the students,” said Rao.
Due to the “forced” closure, the academic calendar of NLSIU has suffered. Few mid-term internal exams that were scheduled for next week have been postponed.
But students are not complaining and have welcomed the decision of the authorities.
“It’s a pandemic and the authorities have taken the right decision to keep the university closed for 10 days. The health of the students is important and should be taken care of,” said a second year student of the university.

Moreover, with the death of 16-year-old girl due to H1N1 virus in Bijapur district Wednesday night, the fatalities due to swine flu in the state has gone up to 20, health officials here said.
The victim, Sunanda Kandawal, was admitted to the Al Ameen Medical College Hospital in Bijapur Tuesday with pneumonia. She tested positive for H1N1 Thursday evening, said health officials.
The city Thursday reported 21 confirmed cases of swine flu.





NDMC notice to Olive bar at hotel stayed

Ruhi Bhasin, TNN 28 August 2009, 05:42am IST

NEW DELHI: The Olive Beach and Bar functioning out of Hotel Diplomat on Sardar Patel Marg was served a notice last week by New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) for unauthorised constructions. The hotel has approached Delhi High Court and got a stay.

A D Singh, who is running the restaurant for the hotel, told TOI: “This matter has been on for two years now and we have approached the court on the issue. I cannot say anything more on this since it is sub judice.” Incidentally, Singh this week reopened the famed Olive in Mehrauli which has an elite clientele.

According to the general manager of Diplomat, Sham Sunder: “There is nothing illegal about Olive Beach and Bar. Earlier, another restaurant was functioning in the lawn area. As per permission given by the excise department, we can serve alcohol outside the premises also. Our hotel has been functioning for 40 years now without any problems. We have the relevant clearances from NDMC’s health department. We have made no unauthorised constructions and had replied to the showcause notice served by NDMC earlier. But when they sent us a notice for demolition on August 19, we decided to get a stay on the matter on August 24.”

NDMC spokesperson Anand Tiwari confirmed that a self-demolition notice has been served on Olive Beach and Bar and the matter was now in the high court. When asked what unauthorised constructions had been carried out according to the NDMC, he said the bar, shed, stove and gazebos were illegal.

The hotel is located in the Luyten’s Bungalow Zone and has residential properties on either side. While no loud music is played by the restaurant, Sunder said some complaints to that effect have been made by people residing in the area.

“We play only piped music and our restaurant is open till 1 am as per permission granted to us by excise department. There are many restaurants functioning from the lawn areas of hotels,” said Sunder.





HAL airport: Cases adjourned to Monday

TNN 28 August 2009, 12:21am IST

BANGALORE: The high court on Thursday adjourned to Monday the hearing on a batch of petitions seeking reopening of HAL airport.

B C Thiruvengadam, counsel for the Airport Authority Employees’ Union, said they have a stake in the airport as their organization was created with a profit motive.

He explained that the Airports Authority of India Act has no provision on closing any airport that had been functioning well.

Earlier, the court had directed stakeholders connected to Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) to place before the court a re-negotiation report. This report, the court added, should deal with reopening of HAL airport, which was closed to commercial flights simultaneously when BIA was inaugurated.

The counsel for BIA replied that a tripartite meeting was held and no re-negotiations was held after May 23, 2008. BIA, however, was not a party to the meeting.

The Centre’s view on the issue through a notification on May 16, 2008, was that it would not disapprove reopening HAL airport for civil and commercial operations but only after a consensual agreement.

BIA was opened on May 23, 2008. On the same day, while refusing to stay the notification relating to closure of HAL airport, the court had asked the Centre to hold re-negotiations in 12 weeks to reopen the old airport.

Also, On April 16, 2008, after refusing to pass any interim order on the closure of HAL airport, the court directed the Centre, state government and AAI to re-negotiate with BIAL immediately. This meeting was supposed to deal with two key aspects suggested by the 131st report of the Parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture.

TOI’s Lead India winner R K Mishra, advocate G R Mohan, Bangalore City Connect Foundation, AAI Employees’ Association and others had filed the petitions, which also challenged a concessional agreement entered between BIAL, Centre and the state government on July 5, 2004.






Blame game on over HC violence

TNN 28 August 2009, 12:43am IST

CHENNAI: A blame game is apparently on over the February 19 violence on the Madras high court premises. Senior police officers have sought to distance themselves from the incident, saying the then city police commissioner alone was commanding the entire operation.

“The then commissioner of police, K Radhakrishnan, was commanding the entire operation on February 19,” said A K Viswanathan, who was the then additional commissioner of police.

In an affidavit filed before a division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi, the officer also said that though he himself and two other joint commissioners of police told Radhakrishnan that it was not necessary to arrest advocates inside the court premises and wanted permission to withdraw the operation, the former commissioner insisted that the entire force stay put on the campus.

“I contacted the commissioner over intercom and told him that it was not necessary to arrest the advocates and that it would create problems. The commissioner informed me that the arrest was already cleared by the Chief Justice and therefore the officers incharge of the high court police station should arrest the advocates. Though I had my reservations, in view of the stand taken by the commissioner, the officers present at the high court police station had to obey his orders and arrest the advocates,” Viswanathan said in his affidavit.

Detailing further, the officer said that when there was tension after arrest, “I contacted the commissioner and told him that it would be prudent to withdraw the entire police force from the court premises. The commissioner told me that the police force should not be withdrawn and that the force should remain on the high court campus and protect the police station. Ramasubramani, joint commissioner of police (north zone) and Sandeep Rai Rathore (central zone) also wanted the withdrawal of police from the HC campus.”

Advocate-general PS Raman, on his part, told the court: “At the end of the day everybody is trying to save themselves. Let us wait and see what is going to happen.”

During arguments, denying government pleader J Raja Kalifulla’s submission that officials totally unconnected to the incident had been arraigned as respondents, the Tamil Nadu Advocates Association president S Prabakaran said about 30 names had been given to court on the basis of the officials’ affidavit before the Supreme Court. He also alleged that the CBI was giving the investigation details to their counterparts in the state police.

The Madras High Court Advocates Association president RC Paul Kanagaraj said top officials named in the case should not be given any administrative responsibilities.

Advocate R Vaigai created a flutter in court when she submitted a list of mobile phone details, complete with the location details of the then commissioner, and claimed that the details reached her office through an anonymous person, who had slipped an envelope under her office door. Claiming that the evidence was doctored before being submitted before the Supreme Court, she said, “he (Radhakrishnan) should not be allowed to continue in a position from where he can wield administrative control over his subordinates throughout the state.”

The judges, who at one point deprecated some advocates who tried to shout down the government pleader, adjourned the matter to September 9 for further hearing.






Update on domestic violence cases, HC to govt

TNN 28 August 2009, 04:02am IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has asked for details from the state government regarding status of cases filed under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act after a PIL was filed by an NGO demanding proper implementation of this law in the state.

A Dangs-based organisation, Asil Manch, filed this PIL through advocate Shilpa Shah complaining that the state government has not taking proper measure to implement the Domestic Violence Act. After conducting a survey across Gujarat, the petitioner has claimed that the government has not appointed any NGO as service provider to help out the victims, which is a primary provision in the law.

The PIL has brought to the notice of the court that the shelter homes to be notified by the government for victims of domestic violence are not enough. There are only 21 shelter homes in 16 districts, while the other 10 districts do not have them at all. Besides this, the NGO has claimed that appointment of protection officers is not satisfactory.

“So far as provision is concerned, the state government has miserably failed in making individual appointments of protections officers. The district social defence officers in 22 districts are given additional charge of protection officer for the purpose of this Act. No preference has been given to a woman for the post,” the petition read.

Moreover, the PIL also blamed the court for unnecessary delay in disposing of the cases. Against guidelines of completing the case within two months, only 6 per cent cases were disposed of in the given time frame, while 82.5 per cent cases are still pending. Even the protection officers are slow in reporting the cases to judicial magistrate, as they could not submit 24 per cent cases to courts even after 90 days.

The court has kept further proceedings on this PIL after two weeks.





Whiff of scam in Kalinga Nagar forest land deal

Hemant Kumar Rout, TNN 27 August 2009, 10:45pm IST

JAJPUR: The alleged sale of forest land in the steel hub of Kalinga Nagar to an Andhra Pradesh-based company has put the Jajpur district administration in a spot of bother.

Collector (Jajpur) Dhiren Das said he has received a complaint that forest land worth around Rs one crore was sold to a private company after alleged fudging of records. “It seems that the plot was illegally converted into agricultural land by doctoring the deeds. The land falls in Danagadi tehsil and I have asked the tehsildar to investigate the matter. We will take action against the guilty after receiving the report,” the collector said on Wednesday.

The Andhra-based company had purchased 26 acres of land from one Manmath Kumar in Duburi revenue circle area. The deal only came to light when the company cleared a sal forest on the land and built a boundary wall.

“The company claimed it had bought a piece of agricultural land. But the truth is that it’s forest area and some official violated the Orissa Land Reforms Act to change the plot’s status. Someone must have received a huge kickback for fudging the record,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

According to the law, a forest land can only be converted into another class after getting clearance from the Union government’s s forest and environment department. “In this case, no such permission was taken,” the official alleged.
Vyasanagar tehsildar Subrat Behera, who is accused of giving the conversion certificate, denied any wrong doing. “The sale deed mentioned the land to be Biali (land used for agriculture purposes) and I issued the certificate. There was no kickback involved. We charged a premium of Rs 8.11 lakh for the deal and the amount was deposited with the state exchequer,” Behera said. “After the Estate Abolition Act came into force, previous occupants of lands were given pattas. Manmath Kumar was one of them. Now, he has sold the land to the company,” he added.

The collector, however, said that his office had received complaints about as many as 1274 cases of illegal conversion. The land leases have been cancelled in over 500 cases till now, he added.






Lucky’s wife discharged in shoplifting case

TNN 28 August 2009, 02:51am IST

CHANDIGARH: In a major setback to UT police, the district court has discharged Harneet Singh, wife of former deputy mayor Harinder Singh Lucky, from the case of theft registered against her in April 2006.

Sources said Harneev Singh was arrested for allegedly stealing branded clothes from Sweet Girls Station in Sector 17 C with the connivance of salesman Raju. A case was registered on the complaint of Alok Jain, owner of the showroom at Sector-17 police station.

The involvement of the wife of a Congress leader in the crime had made headlines and suspension of then SHO of PS-17, Moti Ram, for negligence. Sources say that after sometime the complainant filed an affidavit in court, claiming his salesman Raju had handed over the clothes to Harneev for alternation and he had mistakenly lodged a theft complaint.

On the statement of Raju, Harneev Singh and his friend Jaspal Kaur were also made accused in the case. Both managed to obtain anticipatory bail from Punjab and Haryana High court.

A police official said though crime branch had recommended cancellation of the case, then ASP (central) forwarded an untraced report, which was accepted in court.






Lyngdoh committee rules the roost at PU

TNN 28 August 2009, 03:05am IST

CHANDIGARH: With Panjab University finally endorsing UT administration’s go-ahead for students’ council polls on September 4, Thursday saw recommendations of Lyngdoh committee getting enforced till election day. Imposition of rules also meant an end to the fun over extravagant campus roadshows and liberal use of posters, banners or hoardings.

Making a formal announcement of elections, dean, students’ welfare (DSW) Naval Kishore, handed out a set of instructions to be followed through campaigning and voting with immediate effect. “For rallies with over 500 people, student bodies will have to inform university authorities, who in turn will pass on the message to the area police. In the wake of repeated violence incidents, authorities have decided to conduct police raids in all hostels, where two constables will be stationed round-the-clock to check illegal entries,” said Kishore.

While carrying of licensed weapons was also banned, UT reportedly wrote to PU about checking free flow of liquor in hostels. With directions about disallowing outsider students from campaigning, the administration also demanded that canvassing should end 72 hours before polling and discouraged beyond 9 pm in girls’ hostels and 10 pm in boys’. Moreover, recommendations of Lyngdoh committee also restricted party expenses to Rs 5,000.

Even as records put voter count at 10,000, PU officials said all those enrolling in the university before August 31 would have the right to vote.






Dead woman walks into court to husband’s rescue

Rajinder Nagarkoti, TNN 28 August 2009, 05:24am IST

CHANDIGARH: A dead woman surprised the Punjab and Haryana High Court judge, who was hearing the trial of her husband — arrested for her murder —by walking in to tell him that the accused had been falsely implicated in the case.

The incident happened on Thursday, when justice L N Mittal was holding the court and Charanjit Kaur, the wife of murder accused Chamkaur Singh, entered the premises to accuse the police of frame-up. Shaken by the allegations levelled against him, she had rushed to her husband’s rescue from Amritsar, where she had been staying at the Darbar Sahib following a tiff with him. She demanded that the case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and an FIR lodged against those Punjab police officials for acting in this manner.

Taking cognizance of her statement, the judge issued notices to the secretary, department of home affairs, Punjab, CBI, SHO Bhupinder Kaur, DSP Gurdarshan Singh, Dharamkot municipal councillor Mehar Singh and Krishan Kumar, a resident of Dharamkot, for September 9.

The police had picked up Chamkaur around 9.30am from his residence in Jalalabad village of Moga district on August 14, telling his father Jora Singh that he was required for some enquiry.






Municipal bill passed, more power to local bodies, women

TNN 28 August 2009, 04:08am IST

JAIPUR: The women in the state will finally have an equal share in management of local bodies as the Rajasthan Municipal Bill, 2009, was passed in the state assembly on Thursday. Reservation for women also coincides with the reservation for youth and will be applicable in all existing categories.

Though similar to the Ordinance passed by the previous government, the Bill, which would replace the Rajasthan Municipal Act, 1959, is amended to provide more rights to the local bodies. Provisions have been made to provide more independence to the local bodies and enable them to provide self-governance in real terms.

“Municipalities will be able to implement local tax and could sanction their own budget, providing more autonomy to these institutions,” said local self-government minister Shanti Dhariwal.

Local bodies will now be able to impose fines up to Rs 50,000 on encroachers while there shall be no upper limit for the fine to be imposed by these bodies on violation of other norms.

They have also been given the power to seize any building that is being constructed in violation of building norms. These bodies will now also play a role in management of traffic in their respective areas.

The powers of elected representatives have also been raised. The operation of municipalities will now be highly influenced by the elected representatives.

“The previous government had sidelined the opinion of elected members in disciplinary action against the municipality employees. Now, only on approval of the chairperson, the CEO will be able to take action against any official,” the minister claimed.

“However, to make these members more accountable, they will now have to submit records and statements to the investigating officer in case of a judicial inquiry,” he added.

The selection process for the administrative officers of the municipalities will also undergo a change as their selection will now be made through Rajasthan Municipal Administrative Services (RMAS) and Rajasthan Municipal Technical Services (RMTS), generating more career advancement opportunities.

Even as the changes in municipal norms were proposed earlier during the previous government, the minister denied much credit to the preceding Ordinance as large numbers of changes have been made in the recent Bill.

“The recent Bill still contains nearly half of the provisions of 1959 Act, which are still relevant. In the remaining 30 Sections of the previous Ordinance have been deleted while nearly 120 amendments have been made in constituting the Rajasthan Municipal Bill, 2009,” he added.






Six bills passed in third session of assembly

TNN 28 August 2009, 04:09am IST

JAIPUR: The third session of the Rajasthan assembly reconvened on Thursday passed six bills, including the bills making marriage registration mandatory in the state.

All the bills were passed by voice vote without any debate as the opposition has boycotted the session on the issue of the suspension of its three MLAs. The session, which resumed after a month-long recess, got over in less than two hours, as main opposition BJP, CPI-M stayed away.

Moving the Rajasthan Marriage Compulsory Registration Bill 2009, home minister Shanti Dhariwal said the bill has been moved in tune with the decision of the Supreme Court. It would help the prevention of child marriage, and getting alimony for estranged wives and children. Besides, it would come to the aid of widows to get right on the property of their late husbands. Marriage registration has ben made compulsory barring those solemnised under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, or the Special Marriage Act.

Dhariwal also moved the Rajasthan Nagar Palika (Amendment) Bill 2009 providing more autonomy and discretion to the nagar palikas(municipalities) in imposing new taxes to make them more self-reliant . Besides, nagar palikas have been given powers to make master plans and development plans. The bill also provides for effective management of solid waste, fixing individual responsibility of officials in case of misuse of public money etc. It also makes provision for reservation for youths (21-35) in the local bodies.

Another bill, moved by minister of state for agriculture marketing Gurmeet Singh Kunner sought amendment of the Rajasthan Agriculture Producers Cooperatives 2009 Act to provide for increasing the reservation for women from 33% to 50%.

Panchayati raj minister Bharat Singh moved the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Bill (Amendment ) 2009 seeking delimitation of the of the panchyati raj institutions to bring in more uniformity. It will remove the anomalies of overpopulation in wards and panchayats and panchayat samitis.

The Rajasthan court fees and Suit Valuation Amendment Bill was passed by the assembly to make the law in tune with the Central Court Fees Act.

The House also passed the Appropriation Bill 2009 for Rs 49,33,17862 crore for the additional demand for the financial year 2005-06 before adjourned sine die on Thursday.






Showcause notice to SI for evading court appearance

TNN 27 August 2009, 11:22pm IST

KANPUR: The additional district and sessions judge XIII of Kanpur Nagar, Ghanshyam Pathak on Thursday issued a showcause notice under section 350 of CrPC against sub-inspector, Jang Bahadur, and ordered to stop the payment of his salary till further order.

The presiding judge also issued bailable warrant against the SI and asked the SSP to ensure his presence before the court on September 9, 2009. He took the stern view when he came to know that the SI, who was a prosecution witness, was not appearing in the court to adduce his evidence in a narcotics case styled as State v/s Sravan Yadav despite the serving of summons and notices.

The judge in a copy sent to station officer Barra asked him to ensure the serving of warrant on SI and his presence before the court on next date.

Sentence : The additional district and sessions judge VI of Kanpur Nagar, Amarjeet Tripathi on Wednesday convicted a rapist named as Chandra Shekher and sentenced him to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 18,000.

According to additional district government counsel, Vijay Agnihotri, who had conducted the case, accused Chandra Shekhar, a resident of Chainpurwa in Ganga Katri, had enticed a 14-year-old girl of Lathewali Kothi area and kidnapped her on September 3, 2007. He kept the girl with him for one week and in that period he repeatedly exploited the girl physically. The police recovered the girl from his possession from Kanpur Central railway station while he was trying to leave the city.

The defense counsel had pleaded that since accused was not a criminal hence, court should take a lenient view. But the presiding officer observed that he had committed a heinous crime with a minor girl hence, he should be given harsh punishment.

Meanwhile, additional district and sessions judge V of Kanpur Dehat, V K Srivastava, convicted one Nanhe Lal alias Behari, a resident of Aryanagar Rania, under the Electricity Act and punished him to rigorous imprisonment of one and half year.

According to case file, Nanhe Lal had cut the power cable on January 8, 2008. The police arrested him three months later and recovered 50 kg aluminium wire from his possession.

Legal Literacy camp: A micro-legal literacy camp was held by the district legal cell, Kanpur Dehat, under the chairmanship of district judge, S N Dwivedi at Choubeypur town of Bilhour tehsil here on Tuesday. Besides judicial officials, station in charge of Choubeypur police station, village pradhans of several villages and prominent persons of the locality were present in the camp. The people were informed that any person who belonged to SC/ST, women, handicapped, freedom fighters should apply for legal help free of cost after presenting the certificate. General category persons whose income was upto Rs 1 lakh would also get free legal aid.

Thereafter, they apprised them about pre-litigation Lok Adalat, counselling and reconciliation centre. Information regarding matrimonial disputes, criminal cases, bailable and non-bailable warrants, summons of criminal courts, mutation, will and the Motor Vehicle Act was also given to them. According to Harvindar Singh, secretary, district legal cell, the next camp would be held at Bhoganipur Pukhrayan on August 29, 2009.






SC gives man 35 years for twin murders

TNN 28 August 2009, 02:21am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has saved a double murder convict from the gallows but sent him to an unprecedented 35 years in prison, with the caveat that he cannot be set free after the mandatory 14 years.

This is the first time that the apex court has quantified a lifer’s prison term. Aware that the state government has the power to grant parole after 14 years, the apex court said in this case, Haru Ghosh would serve a minimum of 35 years behind bars.

A bench comprising Justices V S Sirpurkar and Deepak Verma said it was tempted to send Ghosh to prison for the rest of his life like in the Swamy Shradhanand case but it was not doing so because the convict had two minor children.

Ghosh had brutally murdered Amina Pramanik (30) and her 12-year-old son Subhankar in Nabadwip on May 7, 2005, because her husband stopped him from drinking liquor in the locality. He even chopped off Subhankar’s hands and critically injured a neighbour when he came to the rescue.

Ghosh was then on bail, having already been sentenced to life imprisonment in another case.

The trial court sentenced him to death for the double murder, which was upheld by Calcutta High Court.





Lawyer assaulted for seeking adjournment

TNN 28 August 2009, 01:33am ISTPUNE: A lawyer, who sought an adjournment in a property dispute case, was allegedly attacked by a litigant outside the civil court on Wednesday.

The incident has shocked the lawyers practising at the district and sessions court here.

The Pune Bar Association has condemned the incident and demanded action against the suspect, Rajmani Singh, of Koregaon Park.

Lawyer Amod Vora of Rambaugh Colony and Singh have registered cross complaints against each other with the Shivajinagar police station.

According to the police, Singh had come to the court to attend a hearing in a case filed by Yashwant Samaj Kalyan co-op housing society. The case filed against Vijay Kakade and others pertains to ownership of a piece of land at Wanowrie

When the case came up for hearing before civil judge (senior division) A N Sontakke, lawyers Eknath Javir and Vora, representing the defendants, moved an application seeking adjournment. When Vora walked out of the court, Singh accosted him and thrashed him for seeking the adjournment. The police have registered complaints of non-cognizable offence against Vora and Singh, under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.







4 years’ RI to 10 in fodder scam

TNN 28 August 2009, 05:53am IST

RANCHI: A CBI court on Thursday awarded four years’ rigorous imprisonment to 10 convicts in a case of the multi-crore fodder scam that rocked undivided Bihar in 1990s.

The CBI, which probed the scam, had chargesheeted 42 persons in the case (RC 56A/96) which pertained to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 13.79 crore from the Gumla treasury (now in Jharkhand) between July and December 1995.

While two accused — Sunil Kumar Sinha and Ajay Verma — were acquitted by special CBI judge AH Ansari for lack of evidence, 30 others were awarded imprisonment, ranging from three years to seven year, on Tuesday and Wednesday. The court also imposed fine on them, ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 25 lakh.

Special prosecutor SK Lal on Thursday said besides the four years’ RI, the court also imposed fine on the ten convicts, all traders who used to make supplies to the animal husbandry department. While the minimum fine was Rs three lakh, the maximum fine of Rs 10 lakh was imposed on S S Gandhi.

Others sentenced on Thursday included S N Singh, M S Bedi, D K Sinha, Samir Walia, M K Kundan, K Kumar, S S Guian, N K Prasad and Rajesh Verma.

Of the 53 fodder scam cases, 32 have been disposed of, resulting in conviction of 400-odd accused. The remaining 21 cases, including the ones in which former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad is an accused, are in different stages of trial.

CBI sources said efforts are on to expedite trial in the remaining cases. “If everything goes well, the hearing of cases involving Lalu will be completed by the year-end,” a CBI official said.






Valsad gangrape case: 2 held, remanded for 13 days

27 August 2009, 10:53pm IST

VALSAD: Two men, who were arrested for the gangrape of a 16-year-old school girl on her way to tuition class near Dungri village early morning on August 14, were granted 13 days of police remand by a local court on Thursday.

Fahruqh Lambat of Rankuva village of Chikli taluka of Navsari district and Munaf Shekih of Navsari were arrested by Valsad police on Wednesday after their whereabouts were traced from the stolen cell phone of the girl.

Valsad superintendent of police D J Patel said, “The accused have confessed to their crime, which they said they had committed while returning home from Vapi. We have got them to reconstruct and retrace the entire incident. We have also seized the vehicle used by them and the cell phone of the girl.”

“All the scientific tests, including Narco analysis and lie detector tests will be conducted on the duo as we suspect their involvement in other crimes of similar nature,” Patel added. He also said that within 90 days police will prepare a foolproof case like Surat police did so that it will be easy to get such criminals punished.

The duo was arrested after 11 days of the incident as police chanced upon their location by tracking the cell phone stolen from the girl. “We caught Lambat from his village home. At first, he kept denying the incident and said he had picked up the cell phone from the road. Later, he confessed and lead us to his associate in the crime, Shekih.”

While Lambat, a rickshaw driver, has two wives and three children, Munaf works in a plastic unit of Surat. Both had gone to Vapi to meet Lambat’s girlfriend there and spotted the 16-year-old victim near Dungri on a scooter. The duo chased the girl on a motorcycle and threw her off balance by kicking her vehicle and pulled her to a nearby orchard where they raped her.






SC rules about School Buses will be followed

Kistu Fernandes, TNN 28 August 2009, 02:47am IST

The Thane Regional Transport Office on Tuesday issued guidelines regarding the rules to be adhered to by school buses. The step comes close on the heels of the Panvel school bus tragedy. If applied explicitly, not many school buses would be seen plying on the roads, as not many of the rules are being stuck to by them.

The Supreme Court has issued these guidelines and the Thane RTO plans to strictly impose them. “We will make sure these rules, as laid down by the SC, are followed strictly as this is a very important issue,” said the Thane Regional Transport Officer Sanjay Raut. In a press release the RTO has provided the 10 must-follow rules; now only time will tell how effectively they are implemented by the schools as well as the RTO.






‘NTPC case: Oilmin must intervene’

TNN 28 August 2009, 12:41am IST

NEW DELHI: Striving to keep up the heat, Anil Ambani’s ADAG on Thursday expressed surprise over the haste shown by the oil ministry in defending the costs incurred by Mukesh Ambani’s RIL in developing the Andhra gas field and asked it to intervene in the case over gas supplies to state-run generation utility NTPC.

Pointing out that the ministry issued a statement justifying the escalation in the Andhra offshore costs a day after RIL wrote a letter defending the figures, RNRL said the government’s statement did not answer ‘‘legitimate public apprehensions’’ over a decline in the Centre’s share of profit from the field.

RNRL also said the ministry should follow a uniform policy and become party to NTPC’s case against RIL to save electricity consumers from paying additional Rs 30,000 crore for the benefit of ‘‘private monopoly’’ gas producer. “In contrast to hands-off approach in RIL-NTPC case, the ministry has chosen to actively intervene in a similar commercial dispute over gas supply between two corporates (RIL and RNRL), even though the government’s interests are fully protected as per judgement of Bombay HC.”

“Yet, the petroleum ministry is not considering intervening in the court case between RIL and NTPC. Indeed, fears are now being expressed that the ministry’s recent statements in Parliament may harm the interests of NTPC in its legal battle against RIL,” the RNRL letter said.






Comment: No Exemptions Please

28 August 2009, 12:00am ISTThe unanimous decision by Supreme Court judges to make personal assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and dependents public is a step in the right direction. This move by the apex court judges must spur their compatriots in high courts to follow suit.

However, the caveat that no queries will be entertained on the judges’ disclosures is a dampener. Judges must not regard themselves as an exceptional category and seek exemptions and privileges that are not available to other public officials, including legislators. The principle of transparency and accountability demands full measures. The fear that interested parties could misuse the disclosures to embarrass the judiciary may be valid, but that ought to be addressed by incorporating stringent penalties in the law as a deterrent against any possible mischief.

Earlier this month, the government had to withdraw the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill in the Rajya Sabha after MPs objected to a provision that sought exemption for judges from being subjected to any query over disclosures. Their objection that the exemption clause violated the principle of equality before law spelt out in the Constitution was justified. Hopefully, the judiciary will recognise the sentiment. The government must now make necessary changes to the Bill and introduce it in Parliament. In the absence of a law, disclosure of assets will remain a voluntary option whereas it ought to become mandatory for all public officials.

Transparency and accountability form the bedrock of good governance. The legal architecture to facilitate good governance must include a law to protect whistleblowers in the system. The government reportedly is now ready with a draft law to protect whistleblowers. As per the draft law, a complaint of corruption can be made against a central government employee or any other central government-backed institution to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The CVC can withhold the identity of the complainant, order an investigation and, if necessary, provide security for the complainant.

Unfortunately, the draft law, prepared after public uproar over the murder of brave officials who exposed corruption in public works, is not without loopholes. One, the draft law’s scope is limited to the public sector. Two, ministers will be exempted from investigations carried out under complaints registered under this law. These exemptions ought to be removed. Corruption can be an issue in the corporate sector as well: witness Satyam. Many corporate scams like the Enron scandal were exposed by whistleblowers. Similarly, ministers are at the apex of the public sector and an integral part of the decision-making mechanism. To exempt them from an anti-graft law is nothing but a subversion of its intent. As in the case of judges’ wealth, exemptions and half-measures are unacceptable in this case too.

LEGAL NEWS 27.08.2009

Shopian: HC reserves order, CBI unwilling to take up case

Express News Service Posted: Thursday , Aug 27, 2009 at 1202 hrs Srinagar/New Delhi:

Even as the J-K High Court is yet to make up its mind regarding handing over the Shopian double murder case to the CBI, the investigating agency has conveyed its reluctance to the state government. The HC, which was to take on call on continuing with the police investigation or handing the case to the CBI, on Wednesday reserved its order in the Shopian investigation.

CBI Spokesperson Harsh Bhal told reporters that the CBI would need the cooperation of witnesses, the help of the general public and the relatives of the deceased in the case. “In view of this, it will be difficult for CBI to take over investigations. CBI has conveyed its views to the Jammu and Kashmir Government,” he said.

While sources said that a team of the Central agency would visit the Valley on Friday, CBI officials were at pains to clarify that the visit entailed a mere assessment of the situation and that the CBI would not like to interfere in the state police investigations unless the case is transferred to it.

Meanwhile, the hearing in the J-K HC spanned the entire day with Kashmir Bar Association President Mian Qayoom mounting a strong attack on the alleged partisan conduct of the Agency. “We all know what the CBI did in the sex scandal. It saved the very people who it had to book for their involvement in the sex scandal,” Qayoom said. He pleaded for continuation of the investigation under the state police as the latter, he said, could be held accountable. “With the court monitoring the case, police officers investigating the case could be pulled up for their work. The same cannot be done in case of CBI,” he said.

The division bench of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Yaqoob Mir did not appear to favour the transfer of the case either. When Government counsel Ishaq Qadiri made a case for transferring the case to CBI in the interest of an expeditious investigation, Chief Justice Ghosh told him that the Government should in that case concede that the police had failed to do their job.

Justice Ghosh also expressed his displeasure over the destruction of evidence in the case and said there was nothing left for the Central agency to investigate. “For what purpose do you want to be referred to CBI when crucial evidence has been lost?” he said.

While Justice Ghosh said that the J-K Police’s Special Investigation Team seems to have done nothing so far, he, nevertheless, asked the government whether the SIT was being permitted to do “what it wanted to do”.

HC nixes legal challenge on airport levies

The decision reaffirmed the rights of the private operators to recover part of their costs through special levies

Manish Ranjan

New Delhi: In a potentially trend-setting ruling, the Delhi high court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the right of the two private operators managing airports in Mumbai and Delhi to impose special levies on departing passengers.

A division bench comprising chief justice A.P. Shah and justice Manmohan, who uses one name, held that allowing the petition would frustrate the government policy of involving the private sector in developing infrastructure through public-private partnerships (PPP).

Extra burden: Passengers at the Indira Gandhi International Airport that is operated by DIAL. The special levies were imposed to part-finance the cost of modernizing airports and raise funds for development. S Burmaula / Hindustan Times

The decision reaffirmed the rights of the private operators to recover part of their costs through special levies.

The petition was filed by Resources of Aviation Redressal Association, a non-governmental organization, and challenged the imposition of an airport development fee (ADF) by Delhi International Airport Pvt. Ltd (DIAL) and Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd (Mial).

The Delhi and Mumbai airports are run by consortiums headed by infrastructure companies GMR Infrastructure Ltd and GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd, respectively. The special levies were imposed to part-finance the cost of modernizing the airports and raise funds for future development.

Mint could not immediately ascertain whether the petitioner intends to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.

The public interest litigation challenged the fee—a Rs200 cess on domestic passengers and Rs1,300 on international travellers levied since 1 March this year—saying it placed an “undue burden on travelling public”. It also argued that in return for the payment, the passengers were not being offered any extra facility or value by the concessionaires.

It also challenged the government’s decision to delegate the power of collecting the fee to private operators.

However, the court said that because both DIAL and Mial managed the airport under a statutory lease from the government, both have the same right as state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) to levy such a fee.

According to the court, the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994, vests AAI with the powers to devolve its rights to impose and collect special levies to private operators. This, the bench said, was made possible through an amendment effected in the Act in 2003.

On 20 August, the division bench had reserved the order for 25 August after hearing arguments by the government and the two airport operators. The order was eventually delivered on Wednesday.

Analysts said that a decision upholding the petition could potentially have raised questions on the PPP model of financing infrastructure. “The issue should have been, what is the level of such charges. After all, just because they can charge does not mean they can charge what they want,” said Amrit Pandurangi, an executive director at audit and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

DIAL welcomed the ruling. “The ADF is levied for a limited period to modernize and develop the airport and provide modern, passenger-friendly facilities. DIAL remains committed to transform IGI Airport into a transport hub that India will be proud of,” DIAL spokesman Aniruddha Chatterjee said in an emailed statement.

Mial has no immediate comment to offer, a spokesman said.

A senior official at a low-cost airline, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the ruling may embolden airport operators to increase charges.

“It would become a precedent now. In the wake of this, the airports can now say they can increase the charge (development fee) further because they are already empowered,” this official said.

Passenger traffic has already declined because of the impact of an economic slowdown, and the special charges levied by airports may be an additional disincentive for passengers to travel by air. “Naturally there is an effect on demand because it’s going to go from the consumer’s pocket. So it affects passenger demand,” said the airline official.

Rahul Chandran and Tarun Shukla contributed to this story.

Cops get clean chit from HC

Express News Service

Posted: Aug 27, 2009 at 0033 hrs IST

New Delhi The Delhi High Court on Wednesday chose to stand by the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) clean chit to the Delhi Police in last year’s encounter at Batla House that killed two alleged militants and left a police officer dead.

A Division Bench led by Chief Justice A P Shah dismissed a petition seeking a magisterial inquiry into the encounter, despite repeated “prods” from civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan to re-consider.

On July 22 the NHRC had concluded in its final report that there had been no violation of human rights from the police side in the encounter on September 19, 2008.

Criticising the apex human rights body’s report, Advocate Bhushan argued that NHRC had not even done the “basic things required of them” while investigating the circumstances of the encounter. “They (NHRC team) did not even go to the place… to Batla House,” Bhushan told the court. “They did not check if there was any escape route as claimed by the police; they did not verify if shots could be fired at angles the police say they were fired at.”

“Has the police version (of the encounter) ever been put to any serious scrutiny (in the NHRC’s findings)?” Advocate Bhushan asked.

But the court stood by its decision that the report was filed by a statutory authority, such as NHRC, and deserved due respect.

Bhushan then said, “Is the court saying that since NHRC conducted an inquiry, what can the High Court do now under Article 226 (writ power of High Courts under the Constitution)? Would the court have accepted had NHRC given a short report saying ‘we trust the police; we accept the police version (and) we cannot do anything in this case’?”

To this, the Chief Justice replied: “It is not so sacrosanct that they (NHRC) write anything and we accept it — NHRC has prestige; this was a fact-finding probe.”

Justice Manmohan seconded with a remark that there are “several circumstances quoted in the report which points out that the encounter was not fake”.

The NHRC’s 30-page report said the police action was “fully protected by law and there is no need for further inquiry in the case”.

HC asks govt to explain school fee hike cap

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 27 August 2009, 03:13am IST

JAIPUR: A division bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari on Wednesday issued a showcause notice to the state government, asking what authority it had to regulate the fee structure of private unaided schools.

The notices were issued to the state government on four separate petitions filed by the private unaided schools and one unaided school run by minorities. Counsel for this school, R B Mathur, said, “We have specifically challenged the provisions of the Rajasthan Non Governmental Institutions Act, 1989, by which the government has been empowered to make rules regulating the fee structures. However, there is no provision in the Act that authorises the state government to regulate the fee as such but the Act still provides for the rules to be framed in this regard.”

HC raps puja organiser over illegal construction

TNN 27 August 2009, 02:50am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court has made it clear that it will not tolerate any violation of the guidelines regarding community puja pandals in public places.

The court on Wednesday directed a community puja organiser at Kasba in south Kolkata to demolish within 24 hours a portion of the pandal erected illegally, violating West Bengal Fire Service rules. If the organisers fail to do so, the court will direct the police to carry out its order and report to the court, it ruled.

The order came after a writ petition was moved by Ishita Chakraborty, an advocate and a resident of R K Chatterjee Lane in Kasba. She alleged that members of local club Adhibasibrinda, who organise a Durga puja on R K Chatterjee Lane, have erected the pandal very close to her residence. She complained that the organisers had violated the West Bengal Fire Services rule, which specifies that in case of erecting a temporary structure, a minimum gap of 20 feet should be kept between the structure and a residential house.

Chakraborty pointed out that the organisers had kept less than one foot space between her house and the pandal.

During the hearing, state counsel Asim Chatterjee and Suman Ghosh submitted that the organisers had not obtained permission from any of the authorities for organising the puja. The club argued in court that Chakraborty opposed the puja organisers on personal grudge. But the court refused to entertain club’s plea and observed that it would only consider whether the rule was adhered to or not.

HC seeks govt plan to tackle road mishaps

Shibu Thomas, TNN 27 August 2009, 01:21am IST

MUMBAI: A week after the World Health Organisation (WHO) red-flagged India for the rising number of road fatalities, the Bombay high court on Wednesday sought a “comprehensive” plan of action to tackle the problem. “More people die in Maharashtra in road accidents than swine flu and it is high time the government took the issue seriously,” said a division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice Mridula Bhatkar, adding, “People are dying for want of timely medical aid.”

The WHO report had revealed that India topped the worldwide road death chart with 1.14 lakh people dying in accidents in 2007–or 13 deaths every hour. Over 11% of the deaths were reported from Maharashtra.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a medical practitioner. The petitioner said that lack of emergency medical aid during the Golden Hour– within one hour of the mishap–was causing loss of lives in highway accidents.

Additional solicitor general Darius Khambata and advocate Rui Roderigues, represented the Union ministry of road transport and highways and informed the court of a plan to set up trauma care centres at every 50 km of the National Highway. “The Centre has earmarked Rs 733 crore for the project during the current Five-Year Plan between 2007 and 2012,” Khambata said.

The project envisages four categories of such units: level IV trauma care centres comprising of a mobile hospital ambulance with life support facilities stationed along the highway every 50 km; level III centres set up every 110-150 km that will be equipped for initial evaluating and stabilising the victim; level II centres constituting hospitals every 300 km manned by a physician, surgeon and orthopaedic; and level I centres every 700-800 km with super speciality facilities.

Khambata said 140 hospitals near the state highways had already been identified to be upgraded with trauma care facilities.

The court asked the state to implement a pilot project and come up with a similar plan for state highways and city roads.

HC seeks response from CBI on petition filed by Buta Singh

August 27th, 2009

The Delhi High Court sought response from the CBI on Wednesday on a petition filed by NCSC Chairman Buta Singh accusing the probe agency of illegally summoning him for interrogation in an alleged bribery case involving his son.

Singh, a former Bihar Governor and Chairman of National Commission for Schedule Caste (NCSC), contended that he holds a post of Cabinet rank and the CBI cannot question or interrogate him without taking sanction from the Centre.

“I have been issued three summons to appear before the agency on August 19, 24 and 31 without taking mandatory sanction from the Centre. I hold a cabinet rank post and the agency cannot summon me without taking permission from the government,” senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for Singh, said.

Justice Geeta Mittal, after hearing his contention, issued notice to CBI and directed it to file its response by Monday, the date on which Singh has been asked to appear before the agency.

Advocate Harish Gulati, appearing for CBI, accepted the notice and said he would take instructions from the agency on whether sanction was taken or not before summoning Singh.

Singh had approached the Delhi High Court on Tuesday challenging CBI’s notice to appear before it as a witness in connection with a case of alleged bribery against his son Sarobjit Singh.

“Issuing notice by CBI is violative of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act which says that government sanction

is required to interrogate a public servant above the rank of Deputy Secretary,” Singh said in his petition.

Buta Singh’s son was arrested on 31st July by CBI for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs one crore from a Nashik-

based contractor to close an atrocity case against him pending before the Scheduled Caste Commission headed by his father.

Shylendra, Kannan become role models for SC collegium

27 Aug 2009, 0207 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Pressure from within the higher judiciary on Wednesday forced the Supreme Court collegium to concede the demand for making assets of judges public. “A decision in principle has been taken on the issue at a meeting convened by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and details on assets to be declared by judges would be put on the Supreme Court website,” according to an apex court source.

The collegium headed by CJI Balakrishnan decided to voluntarily declare the personal assets of SC judges. Justice Balakrishnan was under attack from within the higher judiciary for opposing the idea of making the assets of higher judiciary public.

Justice D V Shylendra Kumar, the Karnataka HC judge, had written in a national daily that it was a misnomer that the judges of superior courts are not ready to disclose their assets. The Chief Justice of India had no authority to speak for all judges of the superior courts. Justice Kumar had also expressed his desire to make public his assets in his article.

CJI Justice Balakrishnan had reacted angrily to Justice Kumar’s article and called him “publicity crazy”. Former CJI, Justice J S Verma, who had initiated the process for judges’ assets declaration by getting a resolution approved in a full court meeting attended by 22 SC judges in May, 1997, had also questioned Justice Balakrishnan’s reluctance on the issue. The decision of the collegium came after Justice K Kannan of Punjab & Haryana HC voluntarily made public the list of his properties.

Justice Kannan had responded to a letter from lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan to judges suggesting that they should voluntarily disclose their assets. Mr Bhushan said he had sent his letter to about 600 judges of various high courts.

He reportedly declared that he has Rs 1.03 lakh in bank deposits, investment of Rs 3.87 lakh and Rs 10.59 lakh as deposits in his wife’s name. In his blog, he said that Sri Lanka passed Declaration of Assets and Liability Law (Act 1 of 1975) requiring judges, among others, to declare their assets at the time of their appointments.

Many of the African countries have passed such legislation in the recent years to quell widespread allegations of corruption in high constitutional offices, he had said. Justice Kannan had said, in India, although there is no such law, SC judges have been declaring their assets since 1997 to CJI at the time of their appointment as an SC judge and thereafter every year as per a resolution passed by SC on May 7, 1997.

“The high court judges may consider adopting a similar resolution in case it does not have a system of judges declaring their assets soon after the assumption of office and regularly updating the declaration made by them,” Justice Kannan said quoting from a letter of CJI to high court chief justices.

The CJI had written: “It is essential for an independent, strong and respected judiciary and indispensable for impartial administration of justice.” He also called upon the high court judges to adopt what is known as ‘restatement of values of judicial life’ adopted by the apex court in another resolution earlier, Justice Kannan wrote in his blog.

“Ask this question, what do you do after getting the details? Should a judge be answering everyone how he has got the wealth that he has declared? Imagine a judge enquiring into allegations of disproportionate wealth case of a bureaucrat. In the course of the proceedings, what if the litigant asks the judge, ‘how did you obtain your wealth, before asking me to explain my riches?’”

“It may not be a daily occurrence, but consider the mischief that the right to demand the assets statement of a judge could entail,” the HC judge said. Kannan had said, the judges are not in the same league as politicians. “Politicians are elected by people; they have a right to know the financial antecedents. A corrupt politician may not be re-elected again, if the voter believes that the politician has been corrupt.”

Justice Kannan had asked: “Can anyone doubt the wisdom of the judgements of the Supreme Court in Union v Association for Democratic Reforms (2002) and PUCL v Union of India (2003), when they said that declaration of assets at the time of standing for election has become the necessity of the day because statutory provisions of controlling widespread corrupt practices have become insufficient?”

Yet another Madras HC judge had said he was not averse to declaring the assets of his and his family members though he would await a law on the issue. “At present, there is no law that we have to file such a statement nor is there a law that we don’t have to,” Justice K Chandru of Madras HC had said. However, if a law was enacted requiring judges to file official returns of earnings of themselves and their family, it would become mandatory “in which case I would do so”, Justice Chandru had said.

Former attorney-general Soli J Sorabjee said: “It is a very good decision taken by the judges. It’s better late than never.” They have heeded to the views of former chief justices and senior advocates who were also very keen to maintain the image of the judiciary, said Sorabjee.

Moily supports CJI on judges’ assets

August 26, 2009 By: admin Category: News

Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily virtually backed Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan on the issue of assets declaration by judges and said if judges were voluntarily disclosing their assets and ‘wanting to become heroes, it is their wish’.

Supreme Court judges to disclose their assets


New Delhi, Aug 26 (PTI) Under mounting public pressure, the judges of the Supreme Court today decided to make public their assets, an issue that had been haunting higher judiciary for quite some time.

“A decision in principle has been taken on the issue at a meeting convened by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and the details of the assets to be declared by the judges would be put on the Supreme Court website,” a top apex court source said after the two-hour deliberations.

The decision comes after months of public debate over making public the details of higher judiciary, especially the apex court judges and their families, ever since the Right to Information law triggered a clamour on the issue.

HC upholds conviction of rapist

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 27 August 2009, 03:07am IST

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) of one accused for raping a mentally-challenged girl.

Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma said raping a mentally challenged girl is a crime and the culprit can not go scot free under the plea that he had consensual sex.

While agreeing with the line of reasoning of the trial court, Sharma said, “A mentally challenged girl cannot be taken to have given her consent for sexual act. In the present case, the victim is also deaf and dumb. Such a person is always a minor, though she might have attained majority as per her age but her mind is always that of a minor and, therefore, any sort of consent cannot be said to have been obtained for such a heinous crime.”

The trial court after appreciating the evidence and medical reports held the accused, who happened to be neighbour of the girl, took advantage of her lonely condition and committed the crime. The court brushed aside the plea that the victim had given consent saying it is immaterial as she is mentally challenged as well as deaf and dumb.

UK minister tells how changes helped judiciary cut delays

A Subramani, TNN 27 August 2009, 03:57am IST

CHENNAI: Battling judicial delays and high litigation costs, the British judiciary has started “looking at new ways of doing things better”.

Addressing a gathering of judges, lawyers and bar leaders here on Wednesday, British minister for justice William Stephen Goulden Bach said historic changes were introduced to keep “our institutions in tune with the values and aspirations of the British people.”

Lord Bach said the new Supreme Court of UK will start working from October 1, replacing the House of Lords system. Court and the legislature cannot remain entwined, he said, adding that the ongoing constitutional innovation in the UK will bring school children, tourists, lawyers and scholars to courts.

To speed up the civil and criminal justice systems, the UK has embarked upon a mission to banish “excessive delay in the progress of cases” and excessive costs of a legal action, he said.

Talking about the salient features of the reforms, he said a single set of simplified rules was introduced for county courts and the high court, and innovative measures like telephone hearings and money claims online were ushered in. “Now a great deal of legal advice is available online or over the telephone. The Community Legal Advice Telephone Service took half a million calls last year. Callers are offered high quality specialist advice,” said Lord Bach.

The free in-house mediation service in courts dealt with 10,000 cases last year, and the settlement rate was 72 per cent, the minister said, adding that more than 90 per cent of them were conducted over telephone. Parties save the time and cost of having to travel to court, he noted.

While simpler procedures, telephone and online legal assistance, excessive cost and mediation did the trick for civil cases, Lord Bach said criminal cases pending in magistrate courts were speeded up with few adjournments and less paper work. “Criminals are now being brought to justice more quickly. Victims and witnesses are being spared the ordeal of returning to court time and time again. Less police time is being wasted,” Lord Bach said.

Justice HL Gokhale, Chief Justice of the Madras high court, said India was proud to have a strong judiciary which is vigilant in protecting people’s rights. While welcoming radical reforms in the UK judicial system, he said there must be a right balance between continuity and the necessary changes.

While the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) president RC Paul Kanagaraj said the Indian judicial system was modelled after the British system, the Madras Bar Association (MBA) president R Krishnamoorthy said mounting arrears was threatening the efficacy of Indian judicial system. Women Lawyers Association (WLA) president D Prasanna proposed vote of thanks.

Madras HC: Writ petition seeking to stop payment rejected


The Madras High Court rejected a writ petition to restrain the Puducherry Government from paying Rs 25 lakh to the family members of former Puducherry Lt Governor Govind Singh Gurjar, who died while in harness.

“Considering the fact that the announcement was made by the Chief Minister on the floor of the Assembly, we refrain from granting the relief,” the first bench comprising Chief Justice H L Gokhale and Justice D Murugesan said yesterday.

Mr Gurjar was appointed as the Lt Governor on July 23, 2008. He was admitted to a hospital for illness on March 14, 2009. He passed away on April 6, 2009.

Following a representation from the MLAs, Chief Minister V Vaithilingam announced on the floor of the Assembly on August 6, 2009, that the Government would pay Rs 25 lakh to the kins of Mr Gurjar.

The Petitioner contended that the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) was meant for meeting contingencies like natural calamities, death due to road accidents and epidemic diseases.

The announcement was without authority of law and it would set a bad precedent, the petitioner contended.


Wake up and smell the new reality

Antara Dev Sen

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 21:56 IST

My heart goes out to the National Commission for Women. They try so hard, poor dears, yet they never get it right. Today, they are trying to widen the scope of the Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986, and set up a regulatory body, like the Film Censor Board, to screen the portrayal of women on television and in advertisements.

Personally, I would like to line up and shoot the entire cast and crew behind all the rubbish spouted by moustachioed men dressed as Rajasthani puppets flaunting a macho, rustic charm and ghoonghat-shrouded women heaving under the burden of tonnes of jewellery, layers of makeup and generations of suffering while cooking and cleaning and weeping. And I would love to wring the necks of some advertisers for their disgusting ads. But a regulatory body for media is not an easy thing — in India, freedom of expression is sacred and these ‘regulations’ could come dangerously close to censorship.

Apparently, the 1986 Act is not equipped to deal with the electronic media, Internet and mobile phones. “It also lacked proper implementation,” said NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas, “and there were hardly any convictions, hence the need for a new law.” By that logic, we would need a whole new law book. Laws are rarely implemented in India. Take rape — an easy enough crime to identify. No need to deliberate on whether it is derogatory or harmful for women. There are two rapes in India every hour. Only one in 70 rapes is reported. Of this, the conviction rate is only 27 per cent.

Besides, the new Act, Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women and Children Act, 2008, has been in the pipeline since last year. Except that now NCW wants to bring advertisements into its ambit and also thereafter define advertisements anew. As far as I could make out, everything from a label to a notice to a smoke signal will be regarded as an ad and will be examined for sexism.

Apparently, the NCW thinks commodification of women in ads is a new trend. “It has been seen that advertisers of late are using women as an object to promote their commodities,” said Vyas. “There is no need for a woman to be there in an advertisement to promote, for instance, male perfumes, but the advertisers use their explicit pictures.” Wrong on both counts.

First, women have been commodified in advertisements for as long as I can remember, giving women’s libbers one of their strongest weapons against sexism. Second, a man’s perfume may actually have something to do with women — if we look at perfume as the man-made equivalent of pheromones in animals (including us) that, at opportune moments, act as a magnet for the opposite sex. Selling a car or a bike with a half-clad sexy woman lying on it is the traditional example. And it is still valid, after almost 40 years of finger pointing.

We have hordes of laws trying to protect women from discrimination and violence and to secure equal rights and opportunities. In spite of all those, women face considerable discrimination, deprivation and violence. And the NCW is of very little use at the time. Remember how its Nirmala Venkatesh seemed to blame the victims after the Ram Sena attacked women in that Mangalore pub? Sure, the NCW distanced itself from her and withdrew the report, but why was the report accepted in the first place?

How can a body so innocent of gender sensitivities be ruling on gender issues? In fact, it is so unaware that it has just gone back on its demand for a repeal of Section 377 and asked for a nationwide debate instead, as “the entire society was involved”. What prejudiced nonsense!

The NCW has to adapt to new realities before it attempts to regulate them.

Six years on, victim compensated for scissors in stomach

Submitted by admin4 on 26 August 2009 – 5:43pm.


New Delhi : A pair of scissors was left in a women’s abdomen at an Orissa hospital during a surgery. Six years later after a lot of pain and expenses, she has finally got some relief from the state government on the orders of the human rights watchdog.

According to an official of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Binapani Khatua was operated upon while delivering her first child in 2003 in Cuttack in Orissa. However, the baby died four days after.

“After that the woman complained of severe stomach pain but the doctors in the hospital put her on medication without examining her. Four years after the continuing pain, she had to undergo two more surgeries – one to remove her uterus and second to remove a pair of surgical scissors which an X-ray showed was lodged in her belly,” the NHRC official said.

“The couple spent a lot of money on the treatment leading them to a stage of bankruptcy. Keeping the woman’s woes in mind, the commission asked the state government to pay her a monetary relief of Rs.500,000 as well as take action against the erring doctors,” the official added.

The Orissa government, while complying with the recommendation, compensated the woman Aug 24 this year.

HC issues notice to Centre on non-appointment of NHRC chairman
Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 26, 2009, 14:08 IST

The Delhi High Court today sought an explanation from the Centre as to why it was not appointing chairman of National Human Rights Commission, a post lying vacant since June.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Manmohan asked the government to file its response by September 9 when a PIL seeking its direction to appoint chairman of the Commission would be heard.

The petition filed by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, claimed that there are two retired Chief Justices of India eligible for the post but the government is reluctant to appoint them.

“Non-appointment of chairperson in accordance with the Act (Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993) in such a situation despite the presence of two eligible candidates is arbitrary, unreasonable and in violation of principles enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution,” advocate Prashant Bhushan said.

The post of chairman is lying vacant since June after former Chief Justice of India S Rajendra Babu demitted the office after being superannuated.The Commission is now headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court who is functioning as acting chairman of the Commission.

According to rules, the Commission is to be headed by retired Chief Justice of India.

State okays blue-print for elimination of child labour
BS Reporter / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar August 26, 2009, 0:16 IST

The Orissa government has okayed a blue-print for an action plan on elimination of child labour in the state.

The action plan, prepared by Dr Laxmidhar Misra, special rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), will take a final shape after incorporating the opinion of different stakeholders including the non-government organisations (NGOs), sources said.

“The government has formally approved the blue print for an action plan to eliminate child labour in the state. The draft will be recast incorporating the suggestions from different stakeholders and will be placed before the cabinet for approval”, Puspendra Singhdeo, minister of state for labour and employment, Orissa government told Business Standard.

Singhdeo today chaired a high level meeting convened to approve the blue print. Sources said, the state action plan (SAP) aims at complete elimination of the child labour in all occupations and processes by 2012 or 2014.

The universal prohibition of child labour is aimed to be achieved in tandem with the objectives set out in the programme for universal education. The action plan also stressed on rehabilitation and re-integration of all children withdrawn from work through education, nutrition, primary health care, skill training and empowerment of their families. For this, a multi-pronged approach will be adopted involving all the stakeholders. While the children in the age group of 5-8 years will be enrolled in formal schools, children in the age group of 9-13 (who have read up to a certain level) will have to pass through Transitional Education Centres (TEC) for adequate preparation before being enrolled into the formal schools.

On the other hand, the students in the age group of 14-17 age group will receive vocational skill training which will be tailored to their aptitude and interest. However, the draft will be finalised after detail consultation with departments like finance, industry, school and mass education, health among others.

A task force will be formed at the district level for rescue and release, interim rehabilitation, repatriation and full rehabilitation of child labours working in the state and also those migrated outside Orissa in search of work.

While efforts will be made for providing institutional support involving concerned departments of the government, NGOs, social partners and community, an area based approach will be taken up to make a particular village, GP or Panchayat Samiti free from child labour. This is in line with the model adopted by MVR Foundation, Hyderabad.

According to decennial census operations, the number of working children in Orissa was 7,02,293 in 1981, which declined to 4,52,394 in 1991.This further declined to 3,77,594 in 2001. As per the 55th round of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) survey, the total number of child labour in Orissa is put at 2.4 lakh.

The draft blue print suggests constitution of district level, block level and Grampanchayat level implementation committees for better implementation of the programme. While the district collector will head the district level committee, the chairman of the panchayat samiti will head the block level task force. The Gram Panchayat level task force will be headed by the Sarpanch of the concerned Gram panchayat.

Sarabjit’s counsel to submit mercy plea signed by 100,000 Indians

PTI 27 August 2009, 12:52pm IST

LAHORE: Over 100,000 Indians, including former test cricketers and chief justices, have signed a mercy petition addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari seeking clemency for Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row in a Pakistani prison.

Awais Sheikh, the counsel for Sarabjit, said he had brought back the mercy petition with more than 100,000 signatures when he returned from a recent visit to India.

“The signatories include former test cricketer Kapil Dev, Delhi’s Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Syed Amin Hashmi of the Ajmer Sharif dargah, former Chief Justices R S Mongia and Rajindar Sachar, members of Indian human rights groups, Christian and Muslim bodies, doctors, engineers, lawyers, farmers and students,” Sheikh told a news conference here.

Sheikh said he would submit the mercy petition to the President Zardari and also apprise him about the sentiments of the Indians in this regard.

“Since Sarabjit has been in prison for long, his sentence can be commuted to life imprisonment under the law,” he said. Commuting Sarabjit’s sentence will help improve relations between India and Pakistan, he added.

Bid on ex-DGP’s Life
Court acquits Manjinder Singh

Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, August 26
Manjinder Singh charged with an attempt to murder former Director-General of Punjab Police (DGP) DS Mangat by planting a bomb on the railway overbridge was acquitted by Additional Sessions Judge MS Virdi.

Manjinder was also acquitted of charges under TADA. He was charged with planting a bomb near the Sherpur railway overbridge crossing, Ludhiana in February 1991. The then DGP was travelling in his car when the bomb had exploded. The DGP was travelling in bullet-proof car, but had received injury in his leg.

The court held it was proved on record a bomb blast had taken place. But the prosecution failed to prove the said blast was mischief of the accused.

A case under Sections 307 and 427, IPC, and Sections 3 and 4, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), was registered at division No. 6 police station, Ludhiana. The prosecution had claimed that the accused was found to have masterminded the blast.

Earlier, the accused was declared proclaimed offender. He was arrested in this case in August 2002.

The then DGP was going from local PWD rest house to Chandigarh. SP (Security) RC Sethi, who was sitting beside him, was also injured. ASI Joban Singh sitting on the front seat of the same car had also recieved injuries. With the sudden blast, the entire convoy came to a halt and there was smoke all around, according to the prosecution.

The injured persons were shifted to Oswal Cancer Hospital. The prosecution examined 17 witnesses to prove the case, but could not do so.

However, the accused had pleaded his brother-in-law was killed by the police in a false encounter. They were pursuing the case against the police. Out of retaliation, he was falsely implicated.

Principal held guilty of contempt

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
Principal of Nawanshahr-based RK Arya College SK Sachdeva and its managing committee president Prem Bhardwaj are prima facie guilty of contempt, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled.

Taking up a petition filed by Hardev Singh and three other senior lecturers in a case involving payment of arrears, Justice Rakesh Kumar Garg asserted the two respondents had been prima facie guilty of disobeying the court directions, but before proceeding further, it was deemed to be appropriate to grant one more opportunity to the respondents to purge contempt.The case would now come up for further hearing on September 7.

Head constables’ plea

If allegations in a petition filed before the high court are to be believed, head constables with a battalion of Punjab Armed Police are being made to carryout the duties of constables.

In a petition against Punjab and other respondents filed by head constable Gurmeet Singh and 45 other head constables, it had been stated that they were being asked to carry out guard and sentry duties. The petitioners, attached with 9th battalion of the Punjab Armed Police at Amritsar have also sought directions for quashing the orders to this effect.

Disappearance Case
SC dismisses Centre’s SLP

Afsana Rashid

Srinagar, August 26
The Supreme Court has not only dismissed a special leave petition (SLP), but also upheld the order of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, asking Col Kishore Malhotra to make himself available to the special investigation team (SIT) formed to investigate the disappearance of Jana’s husband, Manzoor Ahmad.

Upholding the High Court order, which had directed Col Malhotra to appear before the SSP, Srinagar, for investigation, who is the chief investigation officer of the team, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on August 24, Jana and her daughter Bilkis said at a press conference here today.

In the SLP, the Central government had challenged the High Court orders of June 5, 2008, and July 10, 2008. The High Court had directed the Budgam Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) to hold an inquiry and the CJM had indicted Col Malhotra for the disappearance of Manzoor, the mother-daughter duo said.

They said the High Court had constituted the SIT for conducting investigation. “On July 10, 2008, the court had observed that Col Malhotra, currently posted at the Brigade Headquarters, Drass, should appear before the SSP, Srinagar, the investigating officer. Instead of appearing before the SSP, Srinagar, the SLP was filed before the Supreme Court,” they said.

Jana’s husband, Manzoor Ahmad Dar, was arrested on January 19, 2002, by a contingent of 35 Rashtriya Rifles led by Col Malhotra.

Disturbed Areas Act to stay: Govt

Srinagar, August 26
The government today ruled out withdrawal of the Disturbed Areas Act in the state, saying no such proposal was under consideration.

Answering a question raised by Nizamuddin Bhat (PDP) in the Assembly, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said: “No such proposal is under consideration of the government at the moment.” However, he said the state’s internal security was under continuous review, and action would be considered as and when the situation warranted.

Replying to Mohammad Khalil Band of the PDP, Omar said security cover was provided to persons on the basis of an assessment of threat perception.

“The details of security cover provided to or withdrawn from protected persons has a direct bearing on the security of the persons concerned,” he added.

Answering Mir Saifullah (NC), he admitted that some of the recommendations of the State Human Rights Commission were yet to be implemented.

“As many as 1008 recommendations have been received from the SHRC. Out of these, 578 cases have been disposed of by the deputy commissioners concerned and the Home Departement,” he said. The balance 430 cases were being verified.

About the filling of two vacancies in the SHRC, Omar said the government was looking into the matter. — PTI

‘Bribery’ case shifted from ACB to EOW

S Ahmed Ali, TNN 27 August 2009, 01:31am IST

MUMBAI: The cheating case, in which MRA Marg police station senior inspector Sanjay Kokil got two jeweller brothers arrested by the ACB for trying to bribe him, was abruptly transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) on Monday.

Kokil confirmed the transfer but refused to comment. EOW (unit 3) senior inspector three) S Gadekar said: “The case has been transferred to us in accordance with government directives. We are yet to launch investigations.”

The ACB arrested Sunil Goenka and his brother Sashi Goenka on July 3 after Kokil complained that he had been offered a bribe of Rs 10 lakh to stall the probe in a cheating case involving them and Sunil’s wife, Sheetal. Kokil `alleged’ that the Goenka brothers had approached him and asked him to turn the case around.

The case dates back to May when Mukesh Zaveri filed a complaint against his sister, Sheetal, and her husband, Sunil, and three other persons (including the legal advisor of a hospital and the locker-in-charge of the Fort branch of a nationalised bank). Mukesh `alleged’ Sheetal forged their father Bansilal Zaveri’s signature to operate the family’s bank locker and siphoned off jewellery valued at Rs 5 crore when Bansilal was admitted to a South Mumbai hospital last year. Zaveri also `alleged’ that Sunil forged Bansilal’s will before his death, declaring Sunil as the legal heir to the family property. Mukesh obtained a certificate from the hospital, saying that Bansilal was in such a condition that he could not write or sign documents, when the matter came to his notice. Following this, an FIR was registered.

Kokil questioned all the six accused and was on the verge of arresting them when Sunil’s brother, Sashi, approached him and offered a bribe to drop the case.

According to officials, the order to transfer the case to the EOW came only four days before the Bombay High Court was to decide on bail for the six accused.

Remand for one in Godhra carnage case

Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: The Godhra Railway Court on Wednesday granted 13-day police remand to Ibrahim Dhanna, one of the alleged masterminds of the 2002 Godhra train carnage.

Dhanna will be in the custody of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team for questioning.

Dhanna, who had been absconding since 2002, was believed to be hiding in Pakistan. He was arrested by the Rajasthan police near Barmer while coming from Pakistan by the Thar Express last week.

“Amend Cr.PC to restore complaints dismissed in default”

Legal Correspondent

This will reduce the burden on High Courts: Law Commission

At present to get criminal complaint restored, one has to move High Court

Give power to Magistrate to restore complaint if sufficient cause is shown for absence

New Delhi: The Law Commission of India has recommended amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to provide for restoration of a criminal complaint dismissed in default by a court resulting in discharge or acquittal of the accused depending on the case being a warrant case or a summons case.

The Commission, headed by Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, said in its 233rd report:

“It is a well settled law that a criminal court has no power like the one which a civil court possesses under Order IX of the Code of Civil Procedure to restore a complaint dismissed in default.

“In order to get the [criminal] complaint restored, a complainant, poor or rich, has to knock the door of the High Court under Section 482 Cr.PC. If a Magistrate has the power to entertain a complaint and decide it on merits after summoning the accused, he should also have the power to restore it on good or sufficient cause being shown and re-summon the accused to face the trial on merits.”

The report said Sections 249 and 256 Cr.PC pertained to warrants and summons cases and the absence of complainant to prosecute the complaint on the day of appearance would result in dismissal of the complaint. However, non-compoundable and cognisable offences were excluded from the purview of such dismissal.

The Commission was of the view that with regard to offences “that are compoundable and non-cognisable where discretion is given to the Magistrate to discharge the accused for the absence of complainant, the Magistrate may be vested with the power to restore the complaint on the file if sufficient cause is shown by the complainant for his absence on the date of hearing.”

When provisions had been provided in the Cr.PC to restore a suit which had been dismissed on the ground of absence of plaintiff, similar provisions should be provided in the Code also for restoration of criminal complaints dismissed in default.

By adding provisions in the Cr.PC for restoration of complaints, the burden on High Courts could be lessened.

The report said, “A meritorious complaint cannot be allowed to be thwarted only on the ground that the complainant was unable to remain present, though there existed good and sufficient cause for such absence.” The Commission, accordingly, recommended appropriate amendments to Sections 249 and 256 of the Cr.PC enabling restoration of criminal complaints.

Court vacates stay on no-trust verdict against Ponnur civic chief

Staff Reporter

PONNUR (GUNTUR DT): Curtains on the four-year tenure of Ponnur Municipal Chairperson Nallamothu Ruth Rani may well come to an end, following the Andhra Pradesh High Court order on Wednesday lifting the stay on announcing the verdict of the no-confidence motion that was against the Chairperson on October 30, 2008.

The High Court directed the district Collector to announce the verdict. The Chairperson refused to react to the verdict and said she had not received the copy of the judgment.

The Chairperson was voted out in the no-confidence motion tabled at the special meeting held at Ponnur after 21 out of 31 councillors voted against her.

The then Tenali Revenue Divisional Officer withheld the announcement of the result following a High Court stay order.

Ironically, the Chairperson and the 10 councillors supporting her stayed away from the session amid tight security, paving the way for a unanimous verdict on the no-confidence motion.

Ponnur TDP MLA D. Narendra Kumar spearheaded the campaign against the Chairperson and managed to wean away Congress councillors. The MLA had already stated that they would now support the candidature of Gumpula Prasanna, councillor from Ward 22 as the next chairperson.

The Ponnur Municipality, which was bagged by the Congress in the 2005 polls was mired in internal squabbles.

A novice to active politics, practising physician Nallamothu Ruth Rani was nominated Chairperson following the direction of the Pradesh Congress Committee.

Efforts to pull her down began almost a year ago with a dissident group in Congress openly joining hands with the TDP.

High Court quashes mining lease granted to company

Staff Reporter

Reddy Veeranna challenged the grant of mining lease to Vibutigudda Mining Company

State has not considered other applications and that there were procedural violations: petitioner

BANGALORE: In a significant judgment, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday quashed a mining lease given by the State Government to a private company and directed the State to consider all applications for before granting the fresh lease.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit, passed the order on a petition by Reddy Veeranna who had challenged the grant of mining lease in Sandur taluk of Bellary district to Vibutigudda Mining Company.

Vibutigudda Mining Company had been granted the lease under the March 15, 2003 notification. It commenced mining in 2007. Mr. Reddy Veeranna had challenged the decision, saying that the State had not considered other applications and that there were procedural violations. The Bench accepted the contention of Mr. Reddy Veeranna and set aside the grant of mining lease to Vibutigudda Mining Company. It asked the State to consider all applications for mining lease and pass orders in accordance with the mineral policy of the State. In another case, the same Bench set aside a single judge order quashing transfer of mining lease renewed in favour of Ramgad Minerals Private Limited in Bellary district.

The row between Perk Inn International and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) over the acquisition of land was sorted out on Wednesday when both the parties filed a memo stating that the issue had been amicably resolved.

NHAI had acquired lands belonging to Perk Inn in Konena Agrahara in Begur hobli for construction of an elevated highway on Hosur Road. Perk Inn had claimed that one of the loops for the elevated structure would come in the way of access to its land.

Both NHAI and Perk said the issue had been sorted out amicably.

SHRC seeks disciplinary action against DCP

Staff Reporter

Bangalore: The Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has directed the State Government to hand over the illegal detention case reported in the Amruthahalli police station to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Suresh, a resident of Pille Gowdara Thota at Ward 7 in Doddaballapur, was allegedly detained between July 26 and 29, 2009, at the police station.

His wife, Vasanthamma, later filed a complaint with the SHRC, which in its August 22 order, sought disciplinary action against Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East) Basavaraja Malagathi and other police officials.

The commission recommended the suspension of Amruthahalli police inspector M.S. Ashok, sub-inspector Kempe Gowda, assistant sub-inspector Chandrashekar and a compensation of Rs. 50,000 to the victim.


Suresh, who the police describe as a receiver of stolen property, was formally arrested by the Kothanur police on July 30.

Mining scam: notices issued to Centre, State and CBI


Vigilance has so far arrested eight persons

All the arrested have been released on bail

CUTTACK: While ruling BJD government in the State is unfazed at repeated demands by opposition Congress and BJP for a CBI enquiry into the multi-crore mining scam, a social activist has approached the Orissa High Court for judicial intervention into the sensational issue that has been rocking the State for quite a while.

The Berhampur-based activist Subrat Chandra Tripathy in a PIL has urged the HC to order for a CBI probe into the Rs 110-crore Keonjhar mining scam saying that the ongoing vigilance enquiry into the matter would not reach a logical conclusion.

The vigilance wing of police is currently probing the scam and had arrested eight persons, including some mines and forest officials along with a mines owner in this connection. All the arrested persons in the meanwhile have been released on bails reportedly due to weak charges levelled against them by the prosecution (Vigilance).

Terming the recent exposure as “tip of an iceberg”, the petitioner claims that the mining scam in the state is deep-rooted. .The petitioner urged the HC to direct the CBI to probe into the entire gamut of illegal mining leases ordered in the State and take appropriate legal action against the culprits who have brought losses to the State exchequer. Adjudicating over the PIL, the bench of Acting Chief Justice I M Quddusi and Justice Kumari Sanju Panda on Tuesday issued notices to the CBI and to the Union and State Government as well to file their counters. The matter has been posted for hearing on October 14.

Firm gets HC nod on salt price

Staff Reporter

BERHAMPUR: The Jayashree Chemicals Limited in Ganjam district could manage to get an intervention of the Orissa High Court so that it may not be compelled by the administration to buy local salt at a rate higher than the market price.

Speaking to The Hindu, vice-president (administration) of the company S.S.Kalia said the Orissa High Court had stayed the proceedings of the order passed by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner , southern division, regarding the fixation of price and amount of salt to be procured by the company from the salt producers of Ganjam district. Mr Kalia said they had to approach the court of law when the administration compelled them to procure local salt at Rs. 1,250 per tonne, which according to them was quite higher than the regular market price.

The RDC Satyabrata Sahu had written to Ganjam district collector V.K. Pandian to direct the JCL to procure 25,000 tonnes of salt from local producers at the price of Rs. 1,250 per tonne. He had taken this decision due to demand of the local salt producers who had also threatened to take up agitation.

The JCL, which produces caustic soda and happens to be part of the S.K.Bangur group was not ready to accept this price and mandatory procurement.

Doing the right thing

It is a matter of satisfaction that the pressure of democratic public opinion has made the highest court in the land do the right thing: decide, ‘in principle,’ to disclose the assets of Supreme Court judges on the court’s official website. The opposition within sections of the higher judiciary to mandatory public disclosure of judges’ assets – a measure to promote judicial transparency and check judicial corruption – threatened to weaken public confidence in the judicial system. Although Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan declared that High Court judges were free voluntarily to declare their assets and that a consensus on the issue was being evolved in the Supreme Court, his reservations about mandatory public disclosure were hardly a secret. Even something as innocuous as a Central Information Commission order asking whether Supreme Court and High Court judges were declaring their assets to their Chief Justices in accordance with the judicial code of conduct was stonewalled. The Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of challenging the CIC’s order in the Delhi High Court. It was such resistance to assets disclosure that led the central government to introduce the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill in Parliament with a self-defeating clause. Fortunately, politicians cutting across party lines forced the Bill’s withdrawal after objecting to Clause 6, which stated that any declaration by a judge to his or her Chief Justice would not be public and that no judge would be subject to “any query or inquiry” in relation to its contents. Is a Bill necessary now? The answer is yes because what the Supreme Court judges have decided on is voluntary public disclosure of assets. If some members of the higher judiciary hold out, what can be the remedy other than a uniform law?

Mandatory public disclosure of judges’ assets is not a radical idea. In the United States, the Ethics in Government Act 1978 makes it mandatory for certain classes of federal officials — including federal judges — to make public financial disclosures. The Act reformed a disclosure system for federal officials that used to be based on internal reporting within each agency or department. Many other countries, including Sri Lanka, require judges to make periodic declarations of their assets. Two High Court judges have already made voluntary disclosures, one of them in response to a letter urging such disclosure by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reform, a public-spirited organisation that has done sustained work on such issues. Many judges who have nothing to hide evidently feel inhibited by the absence of a framework that mandates the accurate and public disclosure of assets. The judiciary that endorsed the Election Commission’s bid to introduce transparency and accountability and mandate the public declaration of assets of candidates to elected office cannot apply a different standard to its own functioning. Now that the Supreme Court judges have decided to do the wise thing, High Court judges must waste no time in following their lead.

Legislating against hunger

Zoya Hasan

The time has come for a comprehensive right-to-food law to tackle the deprivation and food insecurity that haunts India.

Over the last decade or so, a series of developments have drawn attention to the problem of food security. These are the persistence of hunger in many parts of the country being juxtaposed with food surpluses and stocks; the adverse impact of globalisation on agriculture and rising food prices resulting in widespread food insecurity; media reports of starvation deaths, hunger and malnutrition and, finally, the Supreme Court rulings in response to public interest litigation.

Despite reports of hunger and rampant malnourishment, the government has not paid enough attention to ensuring food security. In the last few years civil society campaigns, public interest litigation and directions issued by the courts have converted the benefits of nutrition-related schemes into legal entitlements. As a consequence, food security is emerging as a significant policy area for public intervention and public demands stressing a rights-based approach to ensure it. The central idea of the right-to-food campaign that started in 2001 is simply this: the right to food is one of the basic economic and social rights to achieve substantive democracy, and without it political democracy is incomplete. It is directly linked to the right to life, a fundamental human right enshrined in the Constitution and conceivably all human rights conceptions.

The essential demands of the campaign have to be seen in the context of the nutritional emergency in India and the need to address the structural roots of hunger. India’s track record, as far as the commitment to tackling hunger and malnutrition is concerned, is among the worst. The National Family Health Survey (2006) showed that the child under-nutrition rate in India is 46 per cent. This figure is almost double that of sub-Saharan Africa, which is economically poorer than India. In the Global Hunger Index (2008), India ranks 66th among the 88 countries surveyed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). It comes below Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon, and slightly above Bangladesh. The recent rise in food prices has possibly made matters worse in terms of people’s access to food. The blame for this nutritional emergency has to be shared by the persistence of widespread poverty, poor implementation of government programmes (especially Integrated Child Development Services and the Public Distribution System), and various other factors that interact in many ways to produce this dismal result.

Few countries in the world can claim to have achieved total food security. Even fewer of them have introduced legislation to guarantee it. Implementing this right requires not only equitable and sustainable food systems and increases in agricultural productivity but the purchasing power to buy the necessary food. This, in turn, requires means of livelihood security such as the right to work and social security. Since those at risk of hunger are poor and also socially powerless, discriminated and marginalised, an enabling legal entitlement can weaken the power of entrenched interests arraigned against them, and empower the intended beneficiaries by assigning the responsibility and culpability of the government since the primary responsibility for guaranteeing these entitlements rests with the state.

The Congress’ 2009 election manifesto promised to enact a law to facilitate access to sufficient food for all, particularly the most vulnerable and deprived sections of society. The party is keen to implement this promise, which has much to do with the widely held view that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) played an important part in the Congress’ election victory. Not surprisingly, making access to food a fundamental right is likely to become the centrepiece of the United Progressive Alliance’s second innings. Politically the main challenge is to ensure that the Right to Food law is not limited to the fulfillment of the Congress election promise of 25 kg of grain a month at Rs. 3 a kg for Below Poverty Line families: this would amount to whittling down the people’s access to food in the guise of the new law. However, Sonia Gandhi’s very first letter to the Prime Minister on the food security issue after the installation of the UPA government raises the hope that the proposed legislation will offer a more comprehensive guarantee of food security for the poor.

The draft of the Right to Food (Guarantee of Safety and Security) Bill has been widely criticised for its excessive focus on freezing the number of the poorest-of-the-poor who need guaranteed food entitlements. Since then there has been a big debate on the scale and scope of the proposed law.

Three conceptual issues are critical to the provision of an effective food security law. These pertain to how much to give, at what prices, and to whom. On the first issue, there is a consensus that the entitlement under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana which stands at 35 kg of foodgrains per poor household, which is anyway below national nutritional norms, should not be cut.

On the second issue, the rate of Rs. 3 a kg for rice and wheat that the Congress has promised is higher than the existing price of foodgrains available to BPL households in several major States and this would mean paying more for less foodgrains. The entitlements should not be cut to 25 kg, and BPL families receiving wheat at Rs. 2 should obviously continue to do so.

Of the three issues, the criterion for identifying beneficiaries and coverage under the food security law is the most crucial. Taking a minimalist view, the Food Ministry proposes to find a way to limit this list to BPL households, at a level decided by the Centre, and without giving much flexibility to the States to expand the list. However, BPL estimates vary sharply because of the different methods used to determine the beneficiaries. While the Planning Commission estimates that there are just over 62 million BPL families, State governments claim the existence of nearly double that number. Adding to this debate, a recent report by a Supreme Court-appointed panel on food security says the number of food-insecure people is larger than the figures of people officially declared as being poor.

Limiting access to the public distribution system in terms of food to BPL families is at variance with the current political expectations from a law that must ensure food for all to combat widespread malnourishment and hunger. Narrow targeting of food security on the basis of income poverty is likely to exclude a large part of the vulnerable population. The key to an inclusive approach to food security is a guarantee of universal access rather than getting bogged down in ascertaining the target group. For this it is necessary to delink food security from poverty which would help avoid the mistakes inherent in targeting: unfair exclusion of the really poor and the gratuitous inclusion of the non-poor. Above all, a law to make access to food a fundamental right for all must not be hindered by the question of additional fund allocation or subsidy.

Recent campaigns for the right to food, education, work, and information have brought issues of deprivation and livelihood centrestage as never before. Some of these campaigns have produced substantial results in the form of the NREGA and the Right to Information Act. The time has now come to put in place a comprehensive right-to-food legislation that can begin to tackle the colossal deprivation and food insecurity that continues to haunt the country. A food security law will be effective only if it is based on universal access and ensures that the nutritional requirements of every citizen are met.

This also means that the entitlement must be individual and not household-based. Based on individual entitlements, such a law would be able to avoid the difficulties faced by many of the rural development programmes, including the NREGS, which are only nominally rights-based and are heavily dependent on the benevolence and discretion of the implementing government. Such a law will not only give an impetus to the UPA’s paradigm of inclusive politics but underline the important point that the right to food, to health, to education, and to employment are interdependent and incomplete without one another.

(Zoya Hasan is a Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)

Nitish Kumar urges PM to ensure clearance of Bihar corruption bill

PTI 27 August 2009, 01:18pm IST

PATNA: After the Prime Minister’s advice to catch the “big fish” to weed out corruption, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday urged Manmohan Singh to ensure early assent to a Bihar bill for dealing with corrupt public servants.

Asserting that it is “high time” for the Centre to step up measures to weed out corruption from the system, Kumar said, the Prime Minister must intervene to ensure clearance of the bill already passed by the two Houses of the state legislature.

The Prime Minister had on Wednesday asked CBI and state anti-corruption officials to aggressively pursue “high level corruption” saying the perception that “big fish” escape punishment must change and they should act swiftly and without fear.

The Bihar bill, which provides for confiscation of assets of public servants accumulated by them beyond their known sources of income, has been pending with the Centre for over five months.

Kumar said he had raised the issue with union law minister M Veerappa Moily during their recent meeting.

“I can at least boast that Bihar is setting an example by drafting a bill to crackdown on corrupt officials,” the chief minister said.

The state government has also planned speedy trial in cases related to corruption, he added.

No bail for trading firm director who made fake bills

TNN 27 August 2009, 01:22am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday dismissed the anticipatory bail application of a director of a trading company charged with preparing fake bills for the purpose of Value Added Tax to the tune of Rs 718 crore. Justice A P Deshpande rejected the application of Kishankumar Gupta who is the director of KKG Traders and 26 other companies.

The fake bills had resulted in loss of state revenue of over Rs 28.72 crore, said public prosecutor P A Pol, who added that this scam was just the tip of the iceberg. According to the police, Gupta would prepare fake bills and tax invoices which he used to issue to traders without buying/selling/manufacturing any goods. These invoices were used to claim tax rebates. “These kind of economic offences create turmoil in the state treasury and requires in-depth investigation,” the state said in an affidavit filed to oppose Gupta’s bail plea.

Bribery’ case shifted from ACB to EOW

S Ahmed Ali, TNN 27 August 2009, 01:31am IST

MUMBAI: The cheating case, in which MRA Marg police station senior inspector Sanjay Kokil got two jeweller brothers arrested by the ACB for trying to bribe him, was abruptly transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) on Monday.

Kokil confirmed the transfer but refused to comment. EOW (unit 3) senior inspector three) S Gadekar said: “The case has been transferred to us in accordance with government directives. We are yet to launch investigations.”

The ACB arrested Sunil Goenka and his brother Sashi Goenka on July 3 after Kokil complained that he had been offered a bribe of Rs 10 lakh to stall the probe in a cheating case involving them and Sunil’s wife, Sheetal. Kokil `alleged’ that the Goenka brothers had approached him and asked him to turn the case around.

The case dates back to May when Mukesh Zaveri filed a complaint against his sister, Sheetal, and her husband, Sunil, and three other persons (including the legal advisor of a hospital and the locker-in-charge of the Fort branch of a nationalised bank). Mukesh `alleged’ Sheetal forged their father Bansilal Zaveri’s signature to operate the family’s bank locker and siphoned off jewellery valued at Rs 5 crore when Bansilal was admitted to a South Mumbai hospital last year. Zaveri also `alleged’ that Sunil forged Bansilal’s will before his death, declaring Sunil as the legal heir to the family property. Mukesh obtained a certificate from the hospital, saying that Bansilal was in such a condition that he could not write or sign documents, when the matter came to his notice. Following this, an FIR was registered.

Kokil questioned all the six accused and was on the verge of arresting them when Sunil’s brother, Sashi, approached him and offered a bribe to drop the case.

According to officials, the order to transfer the case to the EOW came only four days before the Bombay High Court was to decide on bail for the six accused.

Actor was `unaware’ of mom’s case

Bharati Dubey , TNN 27 August 2009, 01:38am IST

MUMBAI: There was no FIR against actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthy as announced by labour minister Nawab Malik on Tuesday. However, an FIR was registered against the actor’s mother, Sulochana Krishnamoorthy, by activist Sagar Kamble in 2007.

A 12-year-old girl, Naranthi, was rescued from her house and sent back to her native place. She is now studying at a school in Orissa. Kamble told TOI: “We were tipped off by a maid that a 12-year-old girl WAS working at the actor’s house in Oshiwara. We informed the police and the girl was rescued from the house.”

But Suchitra, who met Malik on Wednesday, clarified that she did not even know about the case till Tuesday. “My parents were so embarrassed that they did not tell me about it. My mother had given shelter to the child for a few days after another maid requested her. But, after she had a tiff with her massage woman, the latter probably went and complained to the police,” she said.

Asked what Malik said about being wrongly accused in the case, Suchitra said: “He said in front of the entire media that I was falsely accused in the case. In fact, I was even asked if I could help them by being part of their campaign against child labour.”

Malik said: “The NGO clearly told us that it was Suchitra’s house but the case was registered against her mother as the house was registered under her name.”

Labour secretary Kavita Gupta said the Sulochana Krishnamoorthy case was closed as the girl was rescued and taken to her native place.

Assault at sessions court may be due to gang rivalry

S Ahmed Ali , TNN 27 August 2009, 01:41am IST

MUMBAI: Gang wars may have declined, but inter-gang rivalries still persist. Ganesh Suryavanshi, a close associate of Deepak Valekar of the Pandav Putra gang, has allegedly assaulted rival Sunil Ghate, an alleged member of the Arun Gawli gang, on the premises of the sessions court.

Officials said the incident occurred on August 21, when Ghate came to attend a hearing before the special MCOCA court of R G Awchat. Suryavanshi and his nine associates were brought to the court for a hearing at the same time. “As Ghate was coming upstairs, Suryavanshi’s group cornered him, abused him and punched him until the police escort team overpowered them,” said an police officer who witnessed the incident from afar.

Ghate verbally complained to Justice Awchat. Expressing surprise that such an assault could take place in the presence of the police, the judge ordered a probe. Sources said there was no immediate cause for the fight, but police suspect that the reason may be bitter past inter-gang rivalry. Deepak Valekar alias Pandav Putra was a former member of Arun Gawli’s gang who broke off in late 2000 and started his own gang.

Both Ghate and Suryvanshi have been booked under MCOCA. Ghate was released on bail after police failed to prove his involvement in the murder of Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar, for which he was booked along with Arun Gawli, Suryvanshi and his boss Pandav Putra.

Court orders state to act on acquitted persons in prison

Shibu Thomas, TNN 27 August 2009, 01:50am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay HC on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to verify the number of persons languishing in jail despite acquittal by a trial court, as they could not come up with the bail amount when their case went into appeal. A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi also asked the public prosecutor to check the details of a man after it was revealed that he was lodged in the central prison for over five years under such circumstances. “It’s a sad state of affairs,” said the judges.

TOI in its edition dated August 17, 2009 had reported the case of the 35-year-old man who was in prison for over five years despite being acquitted of the criminal charges against him. The court had directed the state to pay the man Rs 10,000 as compensation. “There might be more such unfortunate persons languishing in jail who have been acquitted by the courts, but because of the pendency of appeals against their acquittals, and because of their failure to furnish sureties, they may remain in jail for no fault on their part,” the judges had said during a previous hearing in the case.

An accused is supposed to be released from jail as soon as he or she is acquitted by the trial court. Under Section 390 of the CrPC, when the state appeals in the HC, a warrant is issued for the re-arrest of the accused. The trial court then has the discretion to either send the accused back to jail or release him or her on bail while the state’s appeal is pending in the HC.

Poor prisoners who can’t afford the bail amount remain in jail, sometimes for up to six years, the court had remarked. “If a prisoner is in custody for six years after acquittal, then there is something seriously wrong in the system and it’s high time for the authorities to look into the matter,” the court had then said. Public Prosecutor P A Pol told the HC that across Maharashtra there was only one prisoner who was still in jail since April 2003 despite being acquitted, as he could not pay the bail amount. The court has, however, asked the prosecutor to verify the statistics from his officers.

Advocate Yug Choudhary, who was appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) said that there was a need to frame guidelines on the issue.

‘Allegations against judge amount to contempt’

TNN 27 August 2009, 12:18am IST

BANGALORE: The Iskcon tussle took a new turn on Wednesday with advocate general Ashok Haranahalli according consent to prosecute Jai Chaitanya Das, Madhu Pandita Das and Chanchalapati Das, all belonging to Iskcon, Bangalore, on criminal contempt charges.

Iskcon, Mumbai, filed an application seeking the AG’s consent to prosecute, based on allegations by Iskcon, Bangalore, that Justice K L Manjunath, heading the Bench hearing the appeal, is biased.

“The sequence of events and the nature of allegations prima facie constitute contempt. If such things are allowed, it will bring the judiciary to disrepute and the parties will make unfounded allegations against Judges with the object of getting the matter posted before a judge of their choice. The allegations against Justice K L Manjunath are nothing but interference with administration of justice and tend to lower the authority of court,” the advocate general opined. He, however, refused to give consent for contempt proceedings against other office-bearers and the lawyers representing Iskcon, Bangalore.

The division bench headed by Justice Manjunath is hearing an appeal filed by Iskcon, Mumbai, challenging the April 17 verdict of a lower court that the property at Hare Krishna Hills in Rajajinagar belongs to Iskcon, Bangalore. The appellants have argued that there is only one Iskcon and the Bangalore unit is a branch.

Corruption case against Anna Univ VC

TNN 27 August 2009, 03:58am IST

CHENNAI: The fate of the vice-chancellor of Anna University-Coimbatore, R Radhakrishnan, continues to hang in the balance, with the state government informing the Madras high court that it would make clear its stand on the corruption case against the VC or his possible suspension, on August 31.

Though the Anna University-Coimbatore Act does not have any provision for suspending the vice-chancellor, the government does have the power to place him under suspension, said advocate-general P S Raman, when the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday before the first bench, comprising chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan. As per Section 15 of the Tamil Nadu General Clauses Act, the authority having the power to pass an order also has the power to rescind it.

N R Chandran, senior counsel for the petitioner Sivapandi, said that as a criminal case was pending against the VC, his further continuation in office would vitiate the inquiry. He should be prevented from working, either by government order or by court order, he said.

The bench, which heard the matter in the morning, asked Vijay Narayan, senior counsel for the VC, to inform the court by afternoon whether he would resign his post in view of the registration of the case.

Vijay Narayan later told the court that the VC would rather await the government’s decision on the matter.

To this, advocate-general Raman said that the government would need time to take a decision on the matter, and added that he had to verify if sufficient material was available with the government to suspend the VC. The matter was then adjourned to August 31 for further proceedings.

7-year-old behind bars: PSHRC seeks report by Sept 30

TNN 27 August 2009, 04:17am IST

MOHALI: Taking suo motu cognizance of a seven-year-old boy being allegedly locked behind bars, Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), on Wednesday, directed the state government to submit its report on this through SSP, Mohali, by September 30.

The commission issued directions after the issue was highlighted in the media. According to reports, the child was kept behind the bars in violation of guidelines issued by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). Cops claimed that boy along with his friends had stolen a mobile from a house. Senior police officials, however, denied that boy was ever kept in lock-up.

Seeking report from the state government through SSP Mohali by the next date, the commission adjourned the matter to September 30. A copy of this order has also been sent to ADGP/IVC-cum-Human Rights and SSP Mohali for information and strict compliance.

Meanwhile, SSP Mohali, Jatinder Singh Aulkah has already directed the DSP, City-II, Swarandeep Singh to conduct an inquiry into the matter. The latter said that a probe is being conducted to check whether the boy was kept behind the bars at Phase-XI police station as reported. On Tuesday, Global Human Rights Council chairman Arvind Thakur had alleged that minor was put behind the bars at Phase-XI police station in violation of the norms.

Legal fraternity happy with CM

TNN 26 August 2009, 11:14pm IST

DHARWAD: The legal fraternity in north Karnataka is elated over the initiative taken by chief minister B S Yeddyurappa in convincing the central government of the need to convert high court Circuit Benches in Dharwad and Gulbarga into permanent benches.

Yeddyurappa, in a letter to Union law minister M Veerappa Moily, has urged to take up the matter with higher echelons in judiciary. President of High Court Circuit Bench Advocates’ Association, B D Hiremath, told `The Times of India’ on Wednesday that the CM’s request to appoint 15 more judges to high court was laudable. Hiremath recalled that advocates in north Karnataka had been fighting for the establishment of high court’s permanent Bench in the region to ensure dispensation of speedy justice “but had to reconcile and agree for the Circuit Benches”.

Going by the number of cases being filed in Dharwad and Gulbarga Benches and looking at the fact that the judges have to visit Dharwad and Gulbarga in batches, it is pertinent that both the Benches should be converted into permanent ones and more judges be appointed. “This will help clients, judges and lawyers and enable speedy dispensation of justice,” Hiremath said.

Echoing the same sentiment, Dharad Bar Association president V D Kamareddy said both Dharwad and Gulbarga Benches have necessary infrastructure. “Just by appointing more judges and issuing a notification converting the two Circuit Benches into permanent ones would benefit the clients to a great extent,” he added.

Yeddyurappa had written to Moily, requesting him to increase the number of judges in high court from the present 41 to 56. He has also appealed to set up Supreme Courts Bench in Bangalore.

Bar association demands judge’s transfer

TNN 27 August 2009, 02:29am IST

LUCKNOW: Opposing refusals of bail pleas in bailable offences by judicial magistrate II Abid Shamim, the Central Bar Association (CBA) of civil court on Wednesday resolved to boycott his court till he is transferred.

The decision was taken in an emergency general body meeting of CBA convened on Wednesday. The meeting had to be called following judge Abid’s adamant attitude to reject the bail application of an accused, who surrendered before him in bailable offences. One Jai Prakash was issued non-bailable warrant (NBW) about 10 years back in connection to a case relating with Bazaarkhala police station under Sections 323 and 504 of IPC.

Filing an application, the accused Jai Prakash surrendered before judge Abid on Wednesday. His lawyer, Nirmal Pandey, moved bail application pleading that since the offences levelled against the accused were of bailable category, he should be released on bail. The judge proposed to reject the bail plea and sent the accused to jail. The lawyer tried to convince the judge to grant a bail in the bailable offences. The judge was unmoved. At this the lawyer complained to the office bearers of CBA. Its president, Saroj Kumar Shukla, also tried to convince the judge to grant Jai Prakash bail as the offences were bailable and he was ready to give sureties.

After resistance, the judge cancelled the surrender of the accused. Reprimanding the conduct of the judge the CBA decided to boycott his court until he is transferred or mends his conduct and view.

CBA president, Saroj Kumar Shukla told TOI that the judge had been in the habit of refusing bail in bailable offences. He told that the judge had earlier also rejected the bail plea of Surya Pratap in a case under section 325 of IPC relating with Madiaon police station. This offence is bailable. Additional sessions judge, Ranjana Pandeya, however, granted him bail on the same day on the ground that the offence was bailable. The president lamented that judge Abid did not possess the basic knowledge of law.

HC rebuff to state govt over NU land

Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN 27 August 2009, 02:14am IST

NAGPUR: In a strong rebuff to the Maharashtra government on its dilly-dallying tactics over returning Nagpur University’s 70-acre land, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has categorically asked the additional government pleader whether there is any political pressure on the issue.

The court directed assistant government pleader (AGP) Bharti Dangre to file a detailed affidavit on the steps taken to hand over university’s land under dispute since the last many years.

Earlier, the judges came down heavily on the government for its failure to remove encroachments even after issuance of several directions. The court stated that it was the responsibility of the state government to give encroachmentfree land to the university.

Earlier, the government told the court that after taking over land in 1971, many encroachers occupied the land and also filed many injunctions in district courts, getting a stay on their removal.

While 39 acres of land is free, 21 acres was encroached. The court then asked the AGP whether the authorities were waiting for the entire land to get encroached.

Notice to state, NMC on poor roads

TNN 27 August 2009, 02:13am IST

NAGPUR: Citizens seem to have finally stood up against Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s lethargic attitude in not maintaining city roads, streetlights and markets, among others. Two alert citizens have approached the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court praying for punitive action against erring civic officials whose negligence is causing innumerable hardships to the people and threatening their safety.

The court issued notices to the respondents – state secretary of Urban Development Department, Mumbai, and NMC commissioner – on Wednesday before adjourning the hearing for two weeks. Anil Kilor was the counsel for the petitioner.

According to petitioners Manohar Khorgade and Gajanan Zade, the NMC is solely responsible for maintaining roads, streetlights, markets and other public utility places in the city. It is their obligatory duty under section 57 of City of Nagpur Corporation Act 1948. As per the law, NMC should also remove obstructions causing problems to the citizens, they said.

Status quo on handing over of APMC land to hsg society

TNN 27 August 2009, 02:15am IST

NAGPUR: The Bombay high court’s Nagpur bench on Wednesday granted a status quo on transferring the land meant for Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) to a housing society. The court has restrained the tehsildar from handing over to the society the four-acre piece of land worth Rs 23 crore till September 2.

The court’s directives came while hearing a petition filed by founder chairman of APMC Dwarkaprasad Kakani who claimed that the land reserved for APMC was given to Gajmukh Cooperative Housing Society which has in its members’ list many bigwigs and a minister of state.

The petitioner alleged that the land with a market value of Rs 12,500 per sq mt was allotted to Gajmukh Society through a sale deed made in 1986. The land originally belongs to Sakore family which had entered into an agreement with the respondent society to purchase it.

However, the APMC had objected to the deal. When the land was still in dispute, the society managed to obtain orders from the then chief minister on April 30, 2007 directing that the land should be handed over to the society.

Man gets 2 life terms for sexual abuse, murder of boy

26 August 2009, 10:59pm IST

PORBANDAR: In a landmark judgment, a Porbandar district and sessions court sentenced a man on Wednesday to two life imprisonment terms for having unnatural sex with a boy and killing him. However, he will serve both sentences together.

According to case details, district and sessions court judge AD Mogle sentenced Santosh Makwana for sexual abuse and murder of his seven-year-old cousin Ashwin Punja.

Judge Mogle, taking note of the seriousness of the crime, pronounced the sentences under sections 307 and 377 of Indian Penal Code.

The crime occurred one-and-a-half years ago at Ranakandorana village near Porbandar on May 7, 2008. Villagers found the mutilated body of the boy, who had been missing for a while, on the banks of Maniyar river. The face and body of the boy was crushed with stones.

Police and forensic investigators found Santosh guilty. He had taken the boy to the river for a bath and committed the sexual act there. Later, scared that the boy would reveal this to others, he brutally murdered him.

Ironically, when the boy was missing, Santosh had looked for him with other family members. The case was solved by the then police inspector of Ranavav police station Jaideepsinh Sarvaiya.

source: sandesh

HC asks govt to inform about probe into DA case

Manohar Lal, TNN 27 August 2009, 12:21am IST

RANCHI: The Jharkhand High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to inform the court how much time it would take to complete the probe into the disproportionate assets (DA) case against six former ministers.

Hearing a public interest litigation filed by one Durga Oraon, a division Bench of Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice Pradeep Kumar said the mere fact that the vigilance department was investigating the case does not mean that it will continue indefinitely.

The petitioner in his PIL has demanded a CBI probe into the case of disproportionate assets of former ministers and action under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Oraon had named seven former ministers. They are Chander Prakash Choudhary, Dulal Bhuiyan, Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Bandhu Tirkey, Kamlesh Singh, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai.

Oraon’s counsel Ritu Kumar said despite the case being lodged against former ministers Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai on November 24, 2008, the state provided VIP security to former ministers till they surrendered in court on August 17 this year.

Kumar said the investigation should be handed over to the CBI as his client had no confidence in the vigilance department. The court also asked advocate-general P K Prasad to explain how long the vigilance department would take to file the chargesheet as well as the progress of investigation.

Counsel for former chief minister Madhu Koda said his matter should be adjourned sine die as vigilance has not found any evidence of disproportionate assets. He argued that no parallel investigation could take place.

The court also took strong exception to the 10 interlocutory applications filed in connection with the case and rejected the application filed against Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay, former chief minister Arjun Munda, Shibu Soren and his former officer on special duty M L Paul in the DA case.

The court also asked the petitioners to file separate PILs for these cases.

CCI gets tough, issues notice to Kingfisher-Jet

Saurabh Sinha, TNN 27 August 2009, 12:51am IST

NEW DELHI: Government watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) has issued notices to the biggest domestic private airlines — Jet and Kingfisher — over the allegedly monopolistic alliance the two entered into last year. Asserting that ‘‘prima facie a case exists’’, CCI has sought details of Vijay Mallya and Naresh Goyal’s operational tie-up that could prevent a level playing field for other carriers.

According to latest DGCA figures, Jet, JetLite and Kingfisher have nearly 50% market share of domestic air traffic. ‘‘It has been alleged that the alliance may result in cartelisation, which may have an appreciable adverse affect on competition… It has further been alleged that the two airlines have a bulk market share as well as airport slots, undermining the ability of other players to compete on a level playing field and are abusing their dominant positions by coordinating increase in passengers fares, increase in fuel surcharge, charging fuel surcharge at a fixed rate irrespective of distance,’’ the CCI notice says.

The airlines have been asked to submit details of the agreement reached last year along with minutes of the meetings held between Goyal and Mallya, failing which the airlines could be fined. A Jet spokesperson said: ‘‘We have received a communication from CCI. They have for some information and we are in the process of providing the same.’’ The Kingfisher spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission is also looking into a similar complaint about the Jet-Kingfisher alliance and the next hearing is slated soon.

NTPC forces govt to rewrite SC petition

Sanjay Dutta, TNN 27 August 2009, 12:53am IST

NEW DELHI: Government’s law officers have been forced to rewrite a Supreme Court petition, being prepared for state-run generation utility NTPC, after a dissatisfied company chairman R S Sharma threatened to walk out of a briefing session, according to top government sources.

The briefing session was called on Tuesday evening to finalise NTPC’s petition for making it an ‘interlocutor’ in the gas row between Mukesh Ambani’s RIL and Anil Ambani’s RNRL. Sources said Sharma lodged strong protest against the draft petition, saying it did not safeguard NTPC’s concerns on the issue of protecting future gas supplies from RIL.

As an interlocutor in the RIL-RNRL case, NTPC will have some say in the matter but will not be a party or respondent. The briefing was being held after an informal ministerial panel under finance minister Pranab Mukherjee decided that the oil ministry will revise or amend its affidavits and petition, field as an intervenor in the RIL-RNRL case, to bring NTPC’s concerns on board.

NTPC is fighting RIL in the Bombay High Court over a deal to supply Andhra offshore gas for $2.34 per unit price obtained through a global tender in 2003. Both attorney general and solicitor general have advised NTPC to move SC, saying the outcome of the RIL-RNRL case will have a bearing on its own.

The two cases have become intertwined since the Reliance demerger MoU envisages RIL supplying gas to RNRL at the same price offered to NTPC. The petroleum ministry has, however, intervened in the RIL-RNRL case with the stand that Andhra offshore gas has to be sold at $4.20 price set in 2007 by a ministerial panel and can be distributed only according to the utilisation policy. Meanwhile, the SC has deferred the September 1 hearing on the

RIL-RNRL case as well as on the oil ministry’s intervention. The hearing is likely to be rescheduled for September 4 or 5.

LEGAL NEWS 25-26.08.2009

‘Marital tiff not cruelty, can’t be basis for divorce’

Shibu Thomas, TNN 26 August 2009, 08:45am IST

MUMBAI: Many a married man’s pet grouse is his quarrelsome wife. But a 47-year-old Parel resident’s attempt to get a divorce on the grounds that his wife constantly quarrelled with him, and this amounted to cruelty, was thrown out by the Bombay high court.

‘‘Normal wear and tear is expected in a matrimonial home,’’ a division bench of Justices P B Majumdar and R V More said, adding: ‘‘Quarrels between spouses over trivial matters in day-to-day married life do not amount to cruelty.’’

The judges also struck a blow for women’s rights. ‘‘It is not expected that a lady should remain like a maidservant and only prepare food and look after the children. The wife is not executing a slavery bond in favour of the husband or her in-laws,’’ the court said while dismissing a petition filed by Vithal seeking
divorce from his wife of 17 years, Rashmi.

The court also said a wife could not be expected to keep her silence and not complain at all. ‘‘It is not expected from the wife that she should not even speak a single word or cannot raise a grievance (sic) about a particular act of her husband,’’ the judges said. The judges also declaimed the practice of seeking dissolution of marriage for petty reasons. ‘‘Marriage is a sacred ceremony which is not to be taken lightly by either spouse; they cannot treat it as child’s play,’’ they held. The judges remarked that the manner in which divorce petitions were flooding the courts made them wonder about the future of marriage. ‘‘(Will) a child who is born out of the said wedlock be able to get the love and affection of father and mother in case the marriage is dissolved in a light fashion?’’ the judges asked.

Vithal married Rashmi in December 1992, and the couple had a son in August 1993. Two years later, in 1995, Vithal filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage on grounds of cruelty. He listed the instances of cruelty: Rashmi threatened to commit suicide if they did not go on a honeymoon despite the fact that his mother was in hospital; she fought with him after the birth of their son; on their son’s first birthday, she quarrelled and went to Siddhivinayak temple alone; once, after a fight, she went to the balcony and stripped; Rashmi did not cook or prepare hot water for his bath.

Vithal claimed that Rashmi was quarrelsome and did not respect or love him. She used to ask him why he had not disclosed his previous relationship, he said, adding that this amounted to cruelty.

Rashmi denied the allegations. She claimed that Vithal had a pre-marital relationship, and from the first day of their married life used to treat her badly and not provide for her. She, however, refused to give him a divorce, saying that she did not want the stigma of being a divorcee.

PM on corruption: ‘Big fish’ must not escape punishment

PTI 26 August 2009, 11:56am IST

NEW DELHI: Asking CBI and state anti- corruption officials to aggressively pursue “high level corruption”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the perception that “big fish” escape punishment must change and they should act swiftly and without fear.

Opening a conference of CBI and state anti-corruption bureaux here, he said there was no single remedy for fighting corruption which has to be combated at many levels, one of which was making existing systems less discretionary.

“High-level corruption should be pursued aggressively. There is a pervasive feeling that while petty cases get tackled quickly, the big fish escape punishment. This has to change,” Singh said.

The Prime Minister said while quick investigation was important and necessary, it was not sufficient to bring the guilty to book.

“Trials should be conducted expeditiously and judgements delivered quickly. To begin with the aim should be to conclude the trial in two years so that punishment could be given to the offenders within a period of three years or so,” he said.

Singh said the government has recently decided to set up 71 new CBI courts and expected them to function as model courts, hold day-to-day proceedings and avoid unnecessary adjournments.

The Prime Minister said the world respects Indian democracy, its plural and secular values, independent judiciary, free press, its commitment to freedom and peace and its pursuit of equitable and inclusive growth.

“But pervasive corruption in our country tarnishes our image. It also discourages investors, who expect fair treatment and transparent dealings. As the country grows and integrates with the world economy, corruption continues to be an impediment to harnessing the best technology and resources,” he said.

Govt to move SC against Dutt’s acquittal

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 26 August 2009, 09:05am IST

NEW DELHI: In a belated move that may even intrigue many, the law ministry now plans to move Supreme Court challenging the acquittal of cinestar Sanjay Dutt two years ago of TADA charges in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

Ministry sources said the file has been sent to attorney general G E Vahanvati and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam with a note that non-filing of appeal against Dutt’s acquittal from TADA charges could work to the advantage of other similarly placed accused in the serial blast case.

Dutt was convicted under the Arms Act but was let off on the serious charges under the anti-terror law TADA by the special court in Mumbai on July 31, 2007. Dutt quickly moved the Supreme Court challenging his conviction and has since been on bail, which was granted in August 2007.

The move to challenge acquittal from TADA charges after two years assumes significance as Dutt, who is close to Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh, was virtually given a clean chit by the government’s top law officer in 2008 when he advised against filing of such an appeal.

The 2008 opinion of the law officer had said that the evidence gathered by CBI was not enough and adequate to fasten serious charges under TADA on Dutt, whom the trial court had rightly found to have committed an offence under the Arms Act.

With the 2008 opinion coming in the way, the ministry now wants the top law officers to examine the case afresh from the point of view whether non-filing of appeal could come in the way of seeking reversal of similar trial court orders acquitting some other accused of TADA charges.

Dutt was convicted in November 2006 under the Arms Act for the illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle but was acquitted of more serious terrorism charges under the stringent TADA law. On July 31, 2007, TADA special judge P D Kode had sentenced Dutt to six years of rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act.

It had said the crime committed by Dutt and his friends were not “anti-social, ghastly, inhuman, immoral or pre-planned” and did not cause any harm to the general public.

Child labour offers better life: Farah Khan

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:00am IST

If such kids are in a good, safe home, they’re better off than on the streets, says choreographer and director Farah Khan

Child labour is a crime and this woman who has employed and abused a helpless 10-year-old child should be put in jail and treated in exactly the same manner in which she treated the child, there.

But let me also point out that there are two sides to this issue. The government has taken the easy way out and just simply banned child labour. But while I always make sure that I do employ people above the age of 18, the fact is that many people employ children in order to give them a better life.

If they are in a good home, a safe home and they are better off than being on the streets, where they might be forced to do all sorts of things, then the government needs to find a solution to make sure they are not treated inhumanly in the process.

The only way to stop something like this is education for all. I am too small to suggest a solution for something like this, but the whole system needs to change.

(As told to Gayatri)

I don’t have a maid below 14: Suchitra

TNN 25 August 2009, 09:48pm IST

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi is shocked at being accused of employing a minor as a maid. She says, “I was having lunch with a girlfriend when I got a few calls from journos and friends telling me I am on TV-breaking news.

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi accused of employing a girl below 14-abusing child labour laws!’ To say I am shocked and hurt is putting it mildly – I am devastated.”

The actress, painter and mother of a nine-year-old adds, “The Labour Minister has named me on TV – the television is full of images of me alongside of a nine-year-old bruised and abused little girl that was rescued a few days ago from the home of a television actress Urvashi. There is nothing more painful than that visual to me, the mother of a nine-year-old myself.”

Suchitra, the former wife of filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, writes on her blog, “Whatever the labour department has said about today me – It is a LIE. I have employed no one below the age of 14 and certainly no one by the name of Nayantri, not currently and NEVER in the past.”

She adds, “I currently employ two girls aged 18. I have registered with two maid agencies in the city who provide me maids with verification and identity.”

Denying that the labour department, police or NGO had been contact with her over the issue, she says sternly, “I demand and challenge them to come up with the proof of the heinous accusations they are hurling at me. My home and my phone line are open to them. As a law abiding citizen I have every right to ask them to furnish me with the evidence they have supposedly gathered against me. Who is this girl? What are they talking about?”

Suchitra states, “So whoever else the labour department is talking about is a figment of their imagination. I am a law abiding citizen and have spent the last few years working towards the betterment of women and children’s lives. Not only with my money but with my valuable time energy and love.”

She says, “When I first saw the news break out I thought it may be about a maid called Rajmoti I had employed over a month ago. She was 16 or 17 and sent to me by her sister Sunita who has been working in my dear friend Tanaya’s home for four years. They told me Rajmoti needed a home. She was fresh from her village that didn’t even have electricity and were keen for her to love and stay in the city for a while.”

“So wondering if the labour laws had changed from 14 to 18, and if this was what the ruckus was about, I called up her sister Sunita and asked if they had perhaps been contacted by an NGO or lodged a complaint. They were shocked and assured me that I had done them a favour by taking the girl in and there was no way they would have lodged a complaint and nor had any NGO or labour department contacted them. So it’s definitely not Rajmoti. As for this other girl Nayantari, that the labour department is accusing me of employing and abusing, I am not even aware of her existence.”

She is willing to give the benefit of doubt to the authorities concerned, “I don’t know who is behind this and why my name is being dragged into it. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding and the name has been misunderstood. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and will pause a bit before I decide what further I need to do.”

Suchitra concludes, “I am not going to let a lie and a fabricated accusation strip me of everything I stand for, have worked towards and believe in. I have faith that the truth with prevail.”

Actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthi booked for employing child labour

IANS 25 August 2009, 05:09pm IST

MUMBAI: In the wake of growing abuse of domestic servants and minors in the city, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday filed cases against Bollywood actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthi and television star Laxmi for allegedly employing child labour.

Labour Minister Nawab Malik told media persons on Tuesday afternoon that his department got information that the two actresses were employing minor girls as maids.

“Accordingly, we have initiated necessary proceedings against the two actresses. We appeal to people to come forward and give us information about such individuals who employ child labour so we can take suitable steps in the matter,” Malik said.

Suchitra is the former wife of noted director Shekhar Kapur.

The action comes barely three days after television actress Urvashi Dhanorkar was arrested Saturday for beating, burning and confining her 10-year old maid after she caught her “eating”.

Dhanorkar was bailed out hours after her arrest. Meanwhile, the victim, Rameshwari is now in a juvenile rescue home.

The Child Labour Prevention Act, 1986, was amended October 2006 to ban employment of children under 14 as domestic servants and in dhabas, restaurants, hotels and other hospitality sectors. It makes their employment a punishable offence.

Ambani gas row: Govt to adopt softer tone in SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN 26 August 2009, 12:20am IST

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday decided to shed much of its belligerence in the Supreme Court in the RIL-RNRL legal battle over sharing of KG basin gas and instead focus only on the core issue of the production sharing contract between it and RIL and the pricing of gas.

It has decided to file a clarificatory affidavit in the SC on Wednesday in its independent appeal in the gas row between Mukesh Ambani’s RIL and Anil Ambani’s RNRL, sources in the petroleum ministry said.

The move comes after the ministry realised that it had made unnecessary statements like “the memorandum of understanding and family agreement between Mukesh’s RIL and Anil’s RNRL is `null and void’ in the face of enormous national interest involved in distribution of natural gas”.

It also decided not to lay stress on its earlier statement – “…RIL and RNRL have appropriated, through the MoU, in a surreptitious and unauthorised manner, the entire gas treating the same as their personal and family property”.

Importantly, however, it has decided to stick to its core argument – the issues relating to sharing of gas between the government and RIL and the pricing would be governed by the production sharing contract (PSC) and the decisions of the empowered group of ministers (EGoM).

In its clarificatory affidavit, the ministry will also attempt to set right a technical oversight made in the appeal filed on July 18. The Centre had forgotten to seek leave of the SC to file the special leave petition (SLP), which was necessary as the Centre was not a party before the Bombay High Court but only an intervenor.

It will make clear in the affidavit that it was not at all interested in “upsetting” the 2005 family agreement between the Ambani brothers nor the MoU between RIL and RNRL.

The Centre, in its appeal filed on July 18, had sought quashing of the June 15 judgment of the Bombay HC. It had said that natural gas was meant for industrialisation of the entire country and not for the individual gains of the ventures owned by Ambanis and added, “The national economy cannot be allowed to be held hostage by the Ambanis.”

RIL had in its affidavit before the SC on July 17 virtually supported the stand of the Centre that there could not be any bilateral agreement between RIL and RNRL for supply of gas as it was subject to the decision of the Centre. However, RNRL had contested this stand and sought implementation of the Bombay HC order upholding the family agreement for sharing of gas.

Elaborating on the national interest involved in the gas production from the KG basin, the Centre had said, “The gas produced and expected to be produced from KG basin and other fields under the various PSCs is substantial. It is expected to nearly double the availability of gas in India in about one year’s time. If properly used, it will promote industrialisation of India.”

Dowry harassment case: Cops yet to trace TV actress’ spouse

TNN 26 August 2009, 01:54am IST

MUMBAI: More than a week after television actress Shaheen Ansari lodged a complaint of dowry harassment against husband Syed Gulzar alias Firoz, the Dindoshi police are still to trace his whereabouts. Firoz (30) is an automobile dealer.

“We received a tip-off on Monday that Firoz would be coming to Malad. Our officers laid a trap, but he couldn’t be found,” a senior official said. The cops are now tracking his cellphone records to find out his location.

Firoz got married to Shaheen (23) in 2008 after meeting her on the sets of a popular tele-serial four years ago. The couple lived in a rented flat on Yari Road, Andheri (W). Within two months of their marriage, Firoz allegedly started demanding large amounts of money and a new cellphone from her. Shaheen was branded with cigarette butts, beaten and taunted whenever she was unable to meet his demands, police said.

“We are questioning Firoz’s acquaintances to locate his whereabouts,” senior inspector V Kakade of the Dindoshi police said. “Shaheen does not know where Firoz is holed up. She doesn’t even know where his parents live.”

SC tells sports club to vacate VK land

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 26 August 2009, 03:05am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday drew the curtain over a 25-year-old case by ordering vacation of a large patch of prime land in posh Vasant Kunj, which was encroached upon and illegally converted into a sports club.

In a 67-page judgment, a bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to take possession of the government land and demolish the super structure built on the encroached 11 acres if the trespassers did not vacate it by November 30.

The time till November 30 will be available to the proprietors of Shanti Sports Club only on the condition that they file an undertaking before the apex court within two weeks promising to clean up the encroachment and deliver vacant land to DDA.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Singhvi expressed displeasure over the manner in which the government land was encroached upon and the illegal possession continuing through the pendency of the litigation. The case has been pending since 2001 in the apex court and has a chequered history with the courts since mid-1980s.

The club had appealed against the HC order which had ordered vacation of the land finding it to be an encroachment. Though the DDA had moved swiftly and demolished a part of the super structure on the very next day of the HC order, the club owners were also equally agile and obtained a stay from the SC and then moved contempt petition against DDA. The SC on Tuesday dismissed both their appeals and contempt petitions.

The apex court order will pave the way for removal of all illegal constructions including six large cottages and several big bungalows built by the club, notified by DDA in 1965 for developing a housing colony. A part of the land is now being used to construct a housing project to be utilised during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The land acquisition by the club in 1993 was allegedly unauthorized. It had set up a huge complex on it and had filed three sets of petitions in the court on behalf of its various functionaries, claiming right on the land and challenged the DDA notification.

’84 case: Trial court rejects CBI claims

TNN 26 August 2009, 03:06am IST

NEW DELHI: A trial court on Tuesday dismissed the CBI’s contention that it was not under a metropolitan magistrate’s jurisdiction to decide on the agency’s probe report giving clean chit to former Union minister Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

After almost five months of gruelling arguments with CBI questioning the jurisdiction of a magisterial court on deciding the matter, additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) Rakesh Pandit, in his order, decided to hear the closure report on September 23.

Not convinced with CBI’s arguments in which they had sought the transfer of the matter to a sessions court, ACMM Pandit said, “This court can take cognizance of the offence exclusively triable by the court of sessions and then can summon the accused who are mentioned in the chargesheet as well as those who are not mentioned therein if it appears to the court that they have also done the offence.”

CBI, which had on April 2 sought to close the case against Tytler claiming there was no sufficient evidence against him, claimed that the matter involved the offence of murder thereby making it exclusively triable by a sessions court.

The alleged role of Tytler in a case related to killing of three persons on November 1, 1984, in the aftermath of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination was reinvestigated by CBI after a court had earlier refused to accept a closure report against him in December, 2007.

The court, which is likely to take up the closure report for hearing on September 23, would now have all the powers to either accept CBI’s closure report or reject it and can even issue summons against Tytler as mentioned by it in its nine-page order.

Citing various High Court and Supreme Court’s judgment, the court referred to the CPC to conclude that “this court can take cognizance of any offence. The word `any’ has been used (in Section 190) to include even those offences which are exclusively triable by the court of sessions.”

During the arguments on the matter, the riot victims’ counsel Rebecca M John had earlier contended that a magistrate only takes cognizance of all offences, whether triable by it or not. “The metropolitan magistrate has the power and the right to accept an investigation report, or reject it, and take cognizance of the offence and can decide which accused to summon,” John argued in the court, terming as “fallacious” CBI’s plea that the magistrate did not have the power to decide on its investigation report.

The case allegedly involving Tytler relates to an incident on November 1, 1984, when a mob had set afire Gurdwara Pulbangash in north Delhi, killing three persons Badal Singh, Thakur Singh and Gurcharan Singh. The CBI had given a clean chit to Tytler in the case and sought prosecution of co-accused Suresh Kumar Panewala for the offence of murder.

Hospital told to pay Rs 17 lakh to kin over patient’s death

TNN 26 August 2009, 03:08am IST

NEW DELHI: National Consumer Commission has directed a hospital to pay Rs 17 lakh compensation to kin of a patient who lost her life during an operation due to medical negligence.

The commission, comprising members R C Jain and P D Shenoy, also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the doctors of the hospital whose deficiency in service and negligence led to the death of Jasbir Kaur, mother of two children aged 13 and seven years, in 1996 after she was operated twice for removal of kidney stones. Kaur was admitted to Sun Flag Hospital and Research Centre in Faridabad for removal of the stones.

Her husband Joginder Singh in his complaint claimed Kaur was operated on her left kidney for removal of stones on December 9, 1996. She had stones in both her kidneys. After the procedure, her treating doctor, Rajiv Kumar Majumdar, gave a report that the patient was found to have poor tolerance of anaesthesia. While she was still recovering from her first surgery, her treating doctor advised for the second on her right kidney. The family was apprehensive but the doctor convinced them the surgery was necessary. The second surgery took place on December 16 and soon after anaesthesia was administered to the patient her condition got worse and she had a cardiac arrest.

Strongly annoyed over the manner Kaur was treated by the doctors, the commission noted that she was operated twice even when her body was not ready for it. The National Commission observed that consent of the patient was not taken for second surgery, requiring general anaesthesia. It also observed there was no emergency, compelling the treating surgeon to carry out the second surgery.

The commission expressed surprise over the manner a senior anesthesiologist had tried to defend his action, saying “poor tolerance to anaesthesia” has “nothing” to do with patient’s health after she was operated for the first time. In his defence, the surgeon said approval of the physicians and the anaesthetist was taken before second surgery.

HC stays CERC directive on access for power export

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:59am IST

BANGALORE: The government on Tuesday got some much-needed relief in dealing with the power crisis. The high court has stayed for six weeks the August 17 directive of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), asking KPTCL to grant open access for export of electricity to outside the state.

Justice Anand Byra Reddy, who heard the petition filed by the energy department, passed the interim order and issued notices to Davanagere Sugar Company, KPTCL, Bescom and Mumbai-based Reliance Energy Trading Company Limited.

“On June 6, the state made some modifications to an earlier order wherein all generators excluding those having valid power purchase agreement (PPA) were permitted to take recourse to open access. This order has been brushed aside by the CERC, ignoring the powers the state had under the provisions of the Karnataka Electricity Act,” advocate general Ashok Haranahalli told the court.

The government cited acute power shortage, resulting in partial supply to various consumers. “There are PPAs with central generating stations and with intra-state generators. If the CERC order is taken to its logical conclusion, it would imply that any generator with a valid PPA can apply for open access and this has to be permitted by KPTCL… The state will not be able to get power from the central or state-owned KPCL, leading to anarchy.. The state may have to buy power at abnormal rates no consumer can afford,” the petition stated.

HC steps in to set free 36 bonded labourers

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:26am IST

CHENNAI: A total of 36 bonded labourers working in stone crushing units in Karur and Salem districts have walked free, thanks to a timely intervention of the Madras high court, which asked the authorities to rescue these labourers and rehabilitate them.

A division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi had directed the collectors and superintendents of police of Salem and Karur districts to rescue the labourers, who included women and children, and provide them all necessary rehabilitary measures as per government rules.

The matter relates to a habeas corpus petition filed by one Lakshmanan Gounder (52), who said 36 persons had been held as bonded labourers in crushing units in Karur district. The workers, who had taken loans up to Rs 20,000 from the unit owners, were made to slog for decades together, he said, adding that in January 2005 their just demand for a small wage hike was denied by the unit-owner, who threatened the workers with death under crusher wheels.

On Monday, more than 30 labourers were produced before the division bench, which asked the authorities to trace four more — Sreerangan and his wife and Paraman and his wife — within four weeks.

It also directed the Karur superintendent of police to ensure sufficient protection to the detenues to go to the crushing units and take back their belongings. He shall also ensure safe travel of the detenues to the place of crushing units and their return to their native place at Tharamangalam, Omalur taluk in Salem district.

The judges also asked the authorities to monitor further investigation in respect of the case lodged against the crushing units and file a final report within three months.

The court wanted the Salem superintendent of police to protect the life and liberty of the detenues. District collector of Karur is directed to monitor the situation in the district and ensure that there is no bonded labour in that district. He was further directed to depute an official to monitor the situation and file a periodical report to the court registry, at least once in three months.

“We also make it clear that monitoring of other crushing units shall not be entrusted to the revenue divisional officer, who has filed the report which does not reflect the correct state of affairs,” the judges said.

They also directed Salem district collector to ensure sufficient rehabilitation measures as per the government schemes to all the 36 detenues who would settle down at Tharamangalam.

HC stays off Pondy move to pay Rs 25L to late Lt Guv’s kin

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:20am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has refused to interfere with the Puducherry government’s decision to pay Rs 25 lakh to the family of the former lieutenant-governor Govindsing Gurjar, who died in April 2009 while in office.

Gurjar was appointed lieutenant governor on July 23, 2008, and he died on April 6, 2009. In August, the chief minister announced in the assembly that the government would pay Rs 25 to the family of the deceased lieutenant governor.

A public interest writ petition was filed by the Puducherry Makkal Vizhipunarchi Eyakkam general secretary P Saravanan, who said public money should be used only for public purposes like welfare and relief measures, and not on the family of departed leaders. He wanted the court to strike down the move.

Dismissing the petition, the first bench comprising chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan said the chief minister had made the announcement on the floor of the assembly and so “we refrain from issuing the kind of mandamus which is sought by the petitioner. It is only for this reason we will not entertain the petition.”

HC asks govt to relocate cracker shops

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:28am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has asked the Tamil Nadu government to consider locating all cracker shops in Chennai at places like Island Ground and some other appropriate places during the Diwali season.

A suggestion to this effect was made by the first bench comprising chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan, when a public interest writ petition filed by social activist Traffic KR Ramaswamy came up for hearing on Monday.

In their orders, the judges said the Chennai Corporation and the Commissioner of Police, Chennai city, shall consider the proposal to shift these temporary cracker shops to Island Grounds or some other appropriate places. It also wanted the authorities to frame a scheme in this regard.

“They should explore the possibility of settling the issue if not during the coming festival season, but at least before the subsequent season,” the judges said.

Ramasamy, who has been filing several public interest writ petitions to get the scores of temporary cracker shops shifted to open grounds at various places in the city, said the authorities were not initiating steps to regulate the retail trade even though law mandates that they visit the place and inspect the spot before issuing temporary permits.

A couple of years ago, the High Court had directed the authorities to identify four places in four different areas in the city to enable residents of those areas to purchase crackers. The plan could not be put into action for want of time.

HC raps SBI for not allowing SC/SC staff dharna

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:12am IST

CHENNAI: The State Bank of India (SBI) was not correct in denying an unrecognised SC/ST employees organisation’s right to hold a dharna at its regional office here, though it had allowed a similar protest by some other forums earlier, the Madras High Court has said.

The bank authorities had rejected permission for the SC/ST employees welfare association and the SBI Ambedkar Trade Union, to hold a dharna/demonstration in the office premises on Rajaji Salai or within a radius of 100 metres from the office in August 1998 or any other date in future.

Justice R Mala, dismissing a petition filed by the SBI Local head office here on Monday, said the bank had permitted the State Bank Staff Union and the State Bank Officers Association to conduct demonstrations inside the bank premises. The bank had not filed any suit seeking to restrain these two organisations from conduction such protests. “It clearly shows that the CBI is treating the SC/ST union in a discriminatory manner.”

As for the SBI’s contention that it was an unrecognised union, Justice Mala said the question of recognition arises only while dealing with workmen related issues and not for holding dharna or demonstration.

Wife slams IPS officer with domestic violence case

Saeed Khan, TNN 26 August 2009, 03:02am IST

AHMEDABAD: An IPS officer holding the post of deputy inspector general in Crime Record Bureau, Kamal Kumar Ojha, 49, has left his home and shifted to the IPS mess. The police have deployed constables for last five months at Ojha’s private house to protect his wife Amita from this officer.

Ojha decided to leave his Navrangpura home months after his wife lodged a complaint against him under the Domestic Violence Act accusing him of physical violence, mental harassment, demanding dowry and threatening to kill her.

The cop has denied all allegations and defended himself by saying that his wife was inspired by the “kitty party culture”. The house was purchased by him in his wife’s name near HL Commerce College.

After some resistance by policemen against registering the complaint against a senior officer, Amita finally succeeded in registering a case against Ojha in March ’09, some 21 years after their marriage.

Amita claimed that Ojha does not hand over money for monthly expenditure to her, but gives it to his orderlies. She has also raised objection to the cop sending money to his parents and younger siblings.

This issue reached the metropolitan court No. 13 on March 30 and the magistrate ordered Ojha to pay Rs 10,000 to his wife and Rs 5,000 each for the upkeep of his son and daughter every month.

On August 20, Ojha moved an application in the Gujarat High Court against the complaint as well as the lower court’s ex-parte order. In his petition, the police officer rebutted all points raised by his wife.

Amita earns more than Rs 2.7 lakh per annum and possesses two cell phones, so does their son. They are extravagant, he contended.

After hearing Ojha’s counsel Rashmin Jani that the son is an adult and lower court was not justified in asking to pay him towards his education, Justice HN Devani on Tuesday stayed the magistrate’s order.

The court issued notice to Amita asking her to reply by September 15.

Plea demanding SIT report copy dismissed

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:49am IST

AHMEDABAD: A special court hearing post-Godhra riots case on Tuesday dismissed an application by an accused demanding a copy of the confidential report that special investigation team (SIT) submitted to Supreme Court (SC) in March this year.

Designated judge hearing the Naroda Gam massacre case, SH Vora dismissed accused Ashok Patel’s application urging the court to direct SIT to submit its report in the trial court and make a copy available to him. The contention raised in the application was that the SIT reportedly wrote in its report that social activist Teesta Setalvad and her NGO were instrumental in providing legal support to the victims.

In 2008, SIT recorded statement of one victim – Madinabanu Rafiqkhan Pathan – who claimed that the affidavit filed in the SC earlier and undersigned by victims had falsely projected her as a rape victim. This incident has been highlighted by SIT in its report submitted to the SC. And the accused should also be provided a copy so that they could defend themselves in proper manner.

The application was opposed by special public prosecutor Nigam Shukla stating that the prosecution does not rely on this report. And since it’s not a part of investigation report, accused are not entitled to get a copy of it. He also contended that the report is just supervisory notes on part of the SIT and as per 2005 SC order, it is not mandatory for the investigating agency to furnish the report. Moreover, Shukla also termed the application as premature, as the court has not framed charges against the 83 accused in this incident, wherein 11 persons lost their lives on February 28, 2002.

Released on bail, juvenile elopes with girl again

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:52am IST

AHMEDABAD: When 16-year-old Sumitra eloped with her neighbour Revchand Mali, 17, in January this year, her mother Nabhu Bhabhor filed a complaint at Sabarmati police station. But, when the girl disappeared with the boy for the second time, she approached the juvenile court.

Mali and Sumitra eloped first on January 8 this year and went to the boy’s ancestral village in Dahod. Bhabhor lodged a complaint of kidnapping and the police brought the couple back, with the help of the mother.

Upon their return, the girl made a statement that she was raped by the boy. This led the police to initiate criminal prosecution against the boy, who produced a certificate in court stating that he had not completed 18 years of age by then. He was taken to the observation home in Khanpur, where he applied for bail and was released on February 27 on the condition that he would not see the girl.

However, Sumitra disappeared once again on March 13 and Mali was also not traceable. Bhabhor went to police station again, but officials allegedly refused to register her complaint. They could not do much, because at the time of the alleged offence Mali was a juvenile and turned 18 on July 6. Bhabhor filed an application in the juvenile court in the city through advocate Samshad Pathan urging the judge to cancel Mali’s bail for breach of condition. Her application for bail cancellation was accepted by the juvenile court on Monday.

This time around, Bhabhor also accused her sister-in-law Nabhu Makholia and son Kala for handing over custody of the girl to Mali for Rs 25,000. When she threatened them of police complaint, they offered the amount to her. She wrote a letter to the DCP-Zone II requesting him to register a case against not only Mali and his family members but also against Kala and Makholia.

Varun files objection on poll plea

TNN 25 August 2009, 10:04pm IST

ALLAHABAD: BJP MP Varun Gandhi on Tuesday moved an application in the Allahabad High Court raising preliminary objection on an election petition filed against him challenging his election as MP from Pilibhit parliamentary seat.

The court will hear the petition on September 16.

Justice Srikant Tripathi, who was hearing the election petition, has also directed to hear the election petition filed against BJP national president and Ghaziabad MP Rajnath Singh on September 8.

The court, on the third election petition filed by a HC lawyer Chandra Narain Tripathi, challenging the election of BSP MP Kapilmuni Karwaria elected from Phulpur Parliamentary seat, has directed to hear it as ex-parte.

The election petition against Varun Gandhi has been filed by VM Singh, who had contested the election against Gandhi on Congress party ticket. The election petition against Raj Nath Singh has been filed by Samar Singh.

‘Bifurcation of HC would be against spirit of Constitution’

TNN 25 August 2009, 10:03pm IST

ALLAHABAD: Members of the Allahabad High Court Bar Association (HCBA) on Tuesday observed `Sankalp Diwas’ and resolved to protest unanimously any move of bifurcation of Allahabad high court.

Presiding over the meeting, HCBA president, VC Mishra while quoting the Constitution observed that bifurcation of the high court would be against the very spirit of the Constitution which envisages one high court for one state.

He pointed out that the city played a pivotal role during the freedom struggle and even the Allahabad high court through its landmark judgments delivered from time to time has strengthened dispensation of justice.

Secretary of HCBA, Veer Singh while decrying the move pointed out that it was more of a political gimmick aimed at garnering votes. He declared that any such move initiated by the government would be detrimental apart from becoming an impediment in dispensation of justice.

Meanwhile, president of Bar Association of Uttar Pradesh, Vishnu Pandey called upon politicians to desist from making such statements in public which create an air of uncertainty.

Consumer law can put cops in order

Supriya Bhardwaj, TNN 26 August 2009, 12:49am IST

CHANDIGARH: Police laxity is a term that most would be familiar with. But ‘deficiency in service’ on part of the police when it comes to maintaining law and order may also enter the common lexicon soon.

When Dadumajra Colony residents Lal Bahadur and his son Rikhi Ram complained in the UT consumer forum against an insurance company and Chandigarh Police under Section 12 of Consumer Protection Act, they set a precedent that could open new doors of litigation against cops. Their motorcycle was stolen from Sector 34 on March 29, 2008. The father-son duo had approached the insurance company, which repudiated their claim, following which they complained against it and cops in the forum.

Though the forum could have dismissed the complaint against the cops terming it ‘in limine’ (through which evidence or one of the parties can be excluded from legal proceedings), it issued a notice to the police seeking their reply. Also, in his reply, SHO of Sector-34 police station did not plead that the complaint was not maintainable and admitted that the vehicle had been stolen. The reply went, ‘Despite best efforts of police, the motorcycle could not be traced. In these circumstances, there is no deficiency in service on its part and the complaint deserves dismissal.’

On Monday, the forum, headed by its president Lakshman Sharma, said, ‘The complainants have failed to make any case of deficiency in service against UT police and complaint against (them) stands dismissed.’

Deciding the case on merit, the forum asked the insurance company to pay Rs 32,741 as claim amount along with Rs 15,000 as compensation for harassment. Advocate Deepak Aggarwal, who represented the father-son duo, said, ‘People can file cases against police force as all public authorities come under the ambit of CP Act. The tax paid by consumers is treated as a consideration.’

‘No functionary, according to Supreme Court, exercising statutory powers, can claim immunity except to the extent protected by the statute itself. Public authorities acting in violation of statutory provisions are accountable for their behaviour before authorities like commissions or courts entrusted with responsibility of maintaining the rule of law,’ added Aggarwal while citing an apex court judgment.

Member of the forum, Siddheshwar Sharma said, ‘Services provided by department of posts, passport offices, universities, municipal corporations and even administration fall under the ambit of CP Act.’

Sources said there were other similar complaints in the pipeline as well. Jagroop Singh Mahal, president of another consumer forum, said, ‘Whenever there is non-performance of duty by a public authority, including police, people complain under CP Act.’

UT SP Madhur Verma said, ‘Our job is to detect and prevent crime. We don’t charge fees to do that. However, it all depends on the court if it wants to consider our duties as a service under consumer laws.’

Court bans idol immersion in Anasagar

TNN 26 August 2009, 03:46am IST

AJMER: The chairman of district lok adalat and district and session judge A K Jain on Tuesday issued notice to district collector and municipal corporation, to ban the immersion of Ganesh idols in Anasagar Lake, as the chemicals and synthetic colous used in these statues pollute the water body.

The court has asked the district administration to submit their reply by August 28. The petitioner Suhas Bhadoria in his petition said the pilgrims who come to pay obeisance at the Ajmer dargah, are forced to take a dip in the polluted water of Anasagar Lake.

“The administration should make alternative arrangements, like building water pits, for immersing the Ganesh idols, which would not pollute the lake,” Bhadoria said.

About 400 statues are expected to be immersed this year, Rajnesh Sharma, a member of an active NGO said. The Maharashtra Mandal, which organises large scale festivities during the occasion, has decided not to submerge their idol in the Anasagar lake.

The present condition of the lake is dismal. “Last month thousands of fishes died in the lake, after the city received its first rain spell. The water channels brought in dirt from various sources, which polluted the lake and caused death of the fishes,” an official at the irrigation department said.

Environmentalist fear the immersion of idols will not just contaminate the lake but also affect the surrounding areas. “Chemicals will not only kill fishes, but will adversely affect the vegetation surrounding the lake,” Mahinder Vikram Singh, president, bird conservation society said.

Udaipur lawyers fail to garner Gehlot support

Trilok Sharma, TNN 26 August 2009, 12:29am IST

UDAIPUR: To press their demand for a Bench of Rajasthan High Court in Udaipur, a delegation of 35 lawyers from Udaipur division presented a memorandum to chief minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur on Tuesday.

Interestingly, Gehlot gave the delegation a patient hearing but during the 10-minute meeting he mentioned Jodhpur 15 times.

Udaipur Bar Association general secretary Hemant Joshi said, “Gehlot made it clear that he has always been with the advocates of Jodhpur and urged us to stop the agitation.”

Gehlot was of the opinion that he had earlier participated in the movement against establishing high court bench at Jaipur, so how he can support the Udaipur movement now?

In April the registrar general of high court, in a communique to the state government, had stated there was no need for a Bench in Udaipur. This has been sent as a reply to the letter of the then chief minister Vasundhara Raje, in which she had recommended stablishment of a high court bench in Udaipur.

Former president of Rajasthan Bar Council, F S Mehta said, “The decision to turn down the demand on the basis of number of pending cases is not a fair one. The high court should have considered the poor financial condition of the people in the region as well as the distance factor. At least a circuit Bench should be there in southern Rajasthan.”

The demand for a Bench in Udaipur is being raised for the past four decades. The local bar association is protesting by wearing black ribbon on their arms every 7th day of the month for the past 32 years. “Now, the Bar has decided to take up the movement aggressively,” said Bar Association president, Tribhuwan Nath Purohit. “We are boycotting routine work in protest since July 7,” he added.

Stating that the Marwar region lacks political will, Joshi said, “There is no one in this region who can voice its interest. Almost all MPs and MLAs of the region had assured us that they will be joining us in Jaipur to meet the CM, but it is very unfortunate that not a single one of them was there.”

‘Minimum 30 years of practice for KBA president post’

TNN 25 August 2009, 09:49pm IST

KANPUR: The model by-laws framed by the Kanpur Bar Association would not allow the freshers to contest for any post. Minimum active practice period for a post is of five years.

According to Ram Balak Mishra, chairman, elders committee, who was one of the members of constitution committee of KBA, for the post of president only those advocates would be eligible, who had an experience of 30 years of active practice. In reply to a question, he said that under model by-laws minimum active practice term was of 25 years but the committee had recommended to increase it to five more years therefore, it was fixed as 30 years of active practice.

There would be 21-member executive committee, including 12 executive members. There are two posts for vice-president and for senior vice-president the requirement is of active practice term of 25 years. For general secretary, candidate must have a practice term of 15 years. There would be one secretary and one treasurer and for these posts candidate must be a veteran of 10 years and 15 years respectively.

There are three posts for joint secretary and five years active practice term is mandatory for them. One of the joint secretary would look after administrative work while second would be in charge of library. The third one would be in charge of publication.

Qualification for six executive committee members would be of practising term of 15 years while remaining six must have practice term of less than 15 years. Members who have already completed two years term as member would be eligible for franchising their vote.

HC sets deadline for sleaze racket trial

Suman Chakraborti, TNN 26 August 2009, 03:16am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court has directed the Bidhannagar ACJM court to complete the trial of the sensational and much-delayed Merlin Park bar-cum-restaurant sleaze racket case by September.

The court has directed that the verdict in the case involving Avtar Singh, husband of former MP and athlete Jyotirmoyee Sikdar be given by September 2009, said public prosecutor of Bidhannagar additional chief judicial magistrate court, Anjan Choudhury. He added that the trial of the much-delayed case was finally speeding up.

To recollect the sensational case, it was way back on August 15, 2004, that the sleaze racket was busted at the bar-cum-hotel and its owner, Avtar Singh, arrested. Although police had submitted the chargesheet in 2005, the trial had started only in 2008. Sources from the Bidhannagar ACJM court said the delay in transferring all the relevant documents from the Barrackpore SDJM court had caused the delay in starting the trial. “As there was no SDJM court in Bidhannagar, the chargesheet had to be submitted to the Barrackpore court. The documents then arrived in the Bidhannagar court and the court then framed the charges. This process took much time,” said a lawyer of the court.

Singh, with the help of Sikdar, had slipped into Subhas Chakraborty’s influential political circle following his wife’s Asian Games glory. Soon after, he began to place his list of demands and get them passed.

However, after Chakraborty distanced himself from Singh, he reportedly joined the rival Amitava Nandy camp. He reportedly used his new-found political influences to acquire the Nayapatti plot in ward 14 of Salt Lake, fill up a waterbody and construct the Merlin Park hotel-cum-bar. The bar got the licence in 2002. Locals had vehemently protested against opening a bar in the area as there were three schools and a temple nearby, but neither the excise department or the Bidhannagar Municipality objected to running the bar.

However, Singh’s fall from grace came on that fateful day in August 2004, when he was arrested. The arrest was linked to the power tussle within the CPM for control of the party’s North 24-Parganas district committee. The rivalry between Chakraborty and Nandy over control of the region was well known then.

Singh was even scouting for potential buyers to sell off his hotel and had fixed a Rs 1.4-crore tag on his bar that was by then running without a licence but did not manage to find anyone. Apart from the lack of licence, there was another reason for that. Singh had invested over Rs 1 crore in developing the eight-cottah wetland into a hotel. He had purchased the wetland from Dulal Mandal, a resident of Kestopur, in 1999. Singh was supposed to pay him Rs 35,000 a month for the first three years. This alone had put the value of the property at Rs 12.6 lakh in 2002.

Police had said Singh was desperate to make up for the loss, and thus, turned the property into a bar and then, into a full-fledged vice den. Notorious criminal hath-kata Dilip used to visit the bar quite often. The bar-cum-hotel was later taken over by a business group that rechristened the name of the hotel as Kings Crown.

Undertrials escape from court lockup

TNN 26 August 2009, 03:07am IST

JALPAIGURI: In the recent past, undertrials have escaped after drugging cops with sweets and soft drinks. But even a simple glass of water can do the trick, as six undertrials at the Jalpaiguri district and sessions court demonstrated on Tuesday.

Taking advantage of lax security, the six men fled in full view of hundreds of people and lawyers on the court premises. Although Kotwali police managed to nab two of them later, the other four could not be traced till evening.

The prisoners who escaped Tazirul Haque, Rebati Roy, Tapan Saha, Sujan Shil, Chandan Saha and Niren Tamang had apparently asked the policemen guarding the lockup for some water. When the guard opened the gate to get it, the six fled.

“The four men jumped over the boundary wall and fled. The constable chasing them was too slow,” said a law clerk at the court.

Police later caught Niren and Chandan while they were trying to catch a bus. Police pickets were set up at all exit points to prevent the others from escaping. tnn

Rein in the moral brigade: SHRC chief

TNN 25 August 2009, 09:37pm IST

MANGALORE: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has served a double whammy on the B S Yeddyurappa-led BJP government. Instances of what SHRC perceives is human rights violation in the form of increasing acts of moral policing perpetrated by fringe right-wing elements in the coastal part of the state, the SHRC has served a notice to the government directing it to rein in such forces lest they engulf the entire coastal belt.

This notice follows close on the heels of another notice served on the state government asking it to submit a report on the violation of religious and other rights guaranteed by the Constitution with specific reference to the headscarf row that has surfaced in educational institutions in Dakshina Kannada. Interestingly, the SHRC has taken suo moto cognisance of media reports in both cases to shoot off letters to the government seeking its reply.

SHRC chairman S R Nayak, who has consistently maintained that the government is not interested in empowering this statutory body, either by way of giving it requisite manpower or infrastructure facilities, told reporters here on Monday that the ugly head of moral policing should be nipped. Nayak directed the chief secretary, IGP (WR) and DC to submit reports on the issue within a month.

Replacement for Bipin

Nayak lambasted the state government for not posting an officer to replace Bipin Gopakrishna who has moved out of the commission on his promotion as additional director general of police on July 10. Bipin was serving the commission as an IGP. Nayak said neighbouring Tamil Nadu has posted an officer of the rank of DGP to serve on its commission and wondered why Bipin could not continue with the SHRC.

Nayak surmised that this could be partly because the state government is afraid that an empowered SHRC would expose state-sponsored atrocities that includes custodial torture and deaths and this could prove to be a major source of embarrassment to the authorities. “This is perhaps whey the state government is not willing to give us the staff and facilities needed and not acting on our repeated requests,” he said.

Referring to an instance of custodial death in R T Nagar police station and custodial torture at Amrutha Halli police station limits in Bangalore, Nayak said he has written to the state government asking them to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. “It is now up to the state government to do so to ensure fairness of investigations into these heinous cases of human rights violation,” Nayak added.

Court orders probe against IAS officer, top cops

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:05am IST

PUNE: A magistrate’s court here has ordered an inquiry under the Atrocities Act against IAS officer Makarand Khetmalis, deputy commissioner of police (crime) Anil Kumbhare and four others for allegedly making castiest remarks against an instrumentation engineer, Mahendra Adsule (31), of Pimpri.

The four others include the then assistant commissioners of police Vinod Satav of the crime branch, Pune, and Subhash Dange of the Swargate division, assistant police inspector Krantikumar Patil of the crime branch and constable S M Nalavade of Yerawada jail.

Judicial magistrate first class Umeshchandra More ordered an inquiry on August 21 under section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure acting on a private case filed by lawyer Sushilkumar Pise on behalf of Adsule.

The court requested the city police commissioner to appoint an officer of the rank of deputy superintendent of police to conduct an inquiry under rule 7 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1995.

In the complaint filed before the court, Adsule has alleged that the police had falsely implicated him in a criminal case at Khetmalis’ behest, who he said had a grudge against him over a personal matter.

Pise told the court that the policemen had misused their authority and had made casteist remarks against his client. In June 2008, they had sent Adsule to jail under the pretext of taking preventive action, he alleged.

CBI allowed to re-examine Thakkar

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:29am IST

PUNE: Amidst protests from defence lawyers opposing permission granted to re-examine a witness, the special court here on Tuesday permitted the CBI to examine cellphone operator Kiran Thakkar on material points in the fake stamp paper scam.

Special judge P R Bora, who is conducting the trial against 19 suspects, including top police officers, politicians and others, granted permission to the CBI in view of a Supreme Court ruling.

The contention of defence lawyers Vidhyadhar Koshe and Milind Pawar is that such permission cannot be granted as Thakkar’s evidence cannot be recorded again on factual matrix’. They charged the prosecution of trying to plug lacunas in the case.

Calming down the lawyers, the judge said the objections being raised by them had been considered by the apex court and that it had allowed the CBI to record Thakkar’s evidence.

In the last hearing held on August 18, Thakkar had said that the disbanded officials of the special investigation team (SIT), Pune, had collected diaries from his stall and residence in Mumbai.

During the proceedings on Tuesday, Thakkar told the CBI’s special public prosecutors Raja Thakare and Avdhut Chimalkar that the SIT had seized the diaries after the panchanama had been prepared. Thakkar could not recollect the dates when the SIT had visited him, but he admitted that the SIT officials had taken him to his office in Pune along with the diaries for the first time when he was grilled by Koshe.

Thakkar refuted Koshe’s suggestion that he was deposing falsely before the court to cover up the false panchanama, which was prepared by the SIT in respect of the seized diaries. Thakkar admitted that the SIT had seized the diaries after one-and-a-half-month of questioning him on seven to eight occasions when he was grilled by Pawar.

Another witness, Balasaheb Damodar Kapkar, a porter with the Jitendra Transport in Nashik, during his deposition gave details of the paper rolls collected from Bacchav Paper Mills in Nashik, which was delivered to Indian Trading Corporation, Bhiwandi, a firm run by co-suspect Madhukar Kulte on behalf of Abdul Karim Telgi. When Koshe asked Kapkar whether he had any personal knowledge of the people to whom he was delivering the goods, the witness replied in the negative. Kapkar could not furnish any evidence to prove that he was working as a porter when he was grilled by Pawar, but he claimed to be a member of the hamal panchayat in Nashik.

Special judge P R Bora on Tuesday shot down the plea of Kiran Thakkar when he sought his intervention in getting the outstanding bill amount of over Rs 3 lakh from Abdul Karim Telgi. Thakkar made the plea after he had completed recording his evidence. The judge told Thakkar that this was not the forum to raise such issues. Thakkar used to recharge the sim cards of Telgi and his gang members before 2002.

FDA to probe complaint of ‘overcharged’ angioplasty

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:36am IST

PUNE: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Pune division has ordered an inquiry against the Ruby hall clinic to probe allegations of overcharging’ the medical bills of a patient who had undergone a heart operation at the hospital last year.

“We have initiated an inquiry against the Ruby hall clinic against the complaint of Dattatray Zende, a cardiac patient, who had undergone angioplasty operation at the hospital in November. If the hospital is found to have overcharged the patient, we will take appropriate action against the hospital under the Drug and Price Control Order 1985,” P K Pawar, assistant commissioner (drugs) of FDA, told TOI on Tuesday.

Zende has also furnished his complaint with the Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat. Confirming this, founder president of the organisation Bindu Madhav Joshi told TOI, “Outrageously overcharging a patient on medical bills is a vicious practise, which is deeply rooted among private hospitals. We have taken up Zende’s case and will do whatever we can.”

Sujata Malik, medical director of the Ruby hall clinic, said, “We are ready to furnish all answers to the FDA during the inquiry. This is just an allegation.”

Meanwhile, Zende said, “I was outrageously overcharged on all medical bills by the Ruby hall clinic. For the two surgical stents used in the angioplasty operation, I was charged Rs 1.72 lakh. But when I enquired about the prices in the market later, I came to know that their prices collectively is not more than Rs 90,000. Even on other medical bills, including clot-busting injections, I have been charged more than the actual price in the market.”

He said, “The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has issued clear instructions to all pharmaceutical companies to display the prices of their surgical products and medicines on the websites, but this is not happening.”

5 sentenced to life for murder

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:50am IST

PUNE: Additional sessions judge R Y Shaikh on Tuesday sentenced five persons to life imprisonment and fined them Rs 4,600 each for murdering plumber Nitin Toradmal (25) of Thergaon at Supertech hospital in Pimpri in 2006.

The men convicted are Sandeep Gaware (19), Ramesh Barkhade (26), Umesh Barkhade (20), Sachin Gaware (22) and Pankaj Gaware (25), all residents of Thergaon.

Six other suspects, Vishal Barge, Mahesh Barne, Nliesh Barne, Shivaji Balwadkar, Sandeep Dighe and Girish Balgude were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Additional public prosecutor Vijay Phargade said a mob of 25 to 30 people armed with sharp weapons and sticks had severely attacked Toradmal and three others when they went to meet their ailing friend Ravi Bhilare at a hospital on February 7, 2006. Bhilare had been injured in a cricket dispute.

Phargade said the impact of the assault was such that Toradmal had died instantly and Avinash Barne, Yuvraj Chavan and Suresh Barne had sustained injuries.

The mob had damaged the glass of the intensive care unit and had also beaten up the hospital staff, Phargade stated.

The Nigdi police had taken action against 14 suspects, including three minors in the case on a complaint registered by Avinash Barve of Thergaon.

Phargade had examined 13 witnesses.

The prosecution had relied on the evidence of eye-witnesses, the weapons recovered, medical evidence and the chemical analyser’s report to prove men guilty.

42 convicted in fodder scam

TNN 25 August 2009, 09:50pm IST

RANCHI: A special CBI court on Tuesday convicted 42 accused in the infamous multi-crore fodder scam and granted bail to 11 others. Two of the accused persons were acquitted.

The case (RC 56A/96) is related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 13.79 crore from the Gumla treasury. The court of special judge Asfaque Hussain Ansari held all the 42 accused persons guilty and pronounced sentence to 11 of the convicted persons.

All the 11 convicts, who were pronounced sentence on Tuesday, were awarded three-year rigorous imprisonment and fines ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 50 lakh. Since the imprisonment was pronounced for a maximum period of three years, all of them were granted bail by the court.

Two of the accused persons, Sunil Kumar Sinha and Ajay Verma, were acquitted by the court for lack of evidence against the charges levelled against them. Special public prosecutor S K Lal said that two of the accused persons, out of the total 44, were acquitted on Tuesday.

Those who were convicted and granted bail include Kumar Virat, Madhu Mehta, Surekh Devi, Naresh Kumar Agarwal, Naveen Kumar, Sudhir Ranjan, Sushil Kumar Sinha, Sanjay Uppal, S N Sinha, Dr Ram Raj Ram and Rajesh Mehta.

“The remaining 31 accused would be sentenced on Wednesday. This was the 33rd fodder scam case to be disposed of by the special CBI court,” Lal said.

A total of 53 fodder scam cases are being tried at the Ranchi special CBI court. All the cases are related to fraudulent withdrawals from Ranchi, Gumla, Simdega, Hazaribag, Dumka, Godda, Chaibasa and Palamu district treasuries.

Lawyers strike work again

25 August 2009, 10:47pm IST

SURAT: Court proceedings remained disrupted on Tuesday, as the lawyers have gone on an indefinite strike following no action by the chief justice of Gujarat High Court on their demand to transfer district and sessions judge R P Dholaria.

Hundreds of litigants and undertrials at Surat sub jail were left in the lurch with the striking lawyers abstaining from legal proceedings on Tuesday. Many litigants, who come from far-off places in the district, have suffered the most in the last two days as they have to return with the lawyers striking work.

Striking lawyers said the chief justice of Gujarat High Court had promised to take action in connection with the transfer of the district judge by August 23. Since the high court is yet to take any decision, the lawyers decided to go ahead with the indefinite strike.

Sources said the lawyers have been summoned by the unit judge of the high court on August 26.

“We have decided to stay from work for indefinite period with our demand to transfer the district judge. We have been summoned by the unit judge on August 26, but we have decided to continue our agitation,” said Ashit Mehta, senior member, Surat district Bar Association (SDBA).

India preparing cases; Swiss banks for specific evidence

PTI 25 August 2009, 04:49pm IST

NEW DELHI: Negotiating with Switzerland for treaty for unearthing black money stashed there, India will take up specific cases with swiss banks, who today said there must be concrete suspicion or evidence of wrongdoing for them to help.

Highly placed sources said that government is in the process of compiling the details and is expected to approach the Swiss authorities with specific cases.

Notwithstanding a revision in the Double Taxation Agreement between India and Switzerland, the Swiss Banks have made it clear that even under the new treaty fishing expeditions would not be allowed.

“I believe that India has lodged a request to revise its Double Taxation Agreement with Switzerland… (but) even under the new agreement and according to Organisation of Economic cooperation and Development Model Tax convention… there must be concrete suspicions and evidence of wrongdoing (for sharing the accounts details),” a top official of Swiss Bankers Association told PTI from Basel.

Government sources here said that India is already negotiating with Swiss government for revising double taxation avoidance treaty. The present treaty between the two nations was signed in 1995.

SBA’s Head of International Communications James Nason said “the privacy of clients innocent of any wrongdoing should remain protected and any unjustified snooping be firmly prohibited.”

C stays deportation of model Ujjwala Raut’s husband

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 25 August 2009, 05:03pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the deportation of Craig Maxwel Sterry, husband of international supermodel Ujjwala Raut till September 14.

The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court will decide on his petition by that time.

Locked in a bitter public spat over his crumbling marriage with Ujjwala Raut, the British national has last week moved the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s decision to cancel his PIO card.

Within a couple of days of the Goa Bench of Bombay High Court refusing to stay the August 10 order cancelling his PIO card, Sterry was in the Supreme Court accusing the Centre of succumbing to pressure exerted by his “influential” wife, who had moved a divorce petition against him in 2008 before a family court in Mumbai.

“My wife being an extremely influential and powerful person has tried to create havoc in my life by initiating false complaints. Ujjwala Raut, in connivance with the respondents, has been lobbying for the cancellation of PIO card which was issued to me on October 11, 2006,” said model-turned-entrepreneur Sterry, who had married Raut, billed as India’s biggest international model, in New York in 2002.

Seeking a stay of the order cancelling his PIO card, Sterry through counsel Devadatt Kamat, sought protection from the apex court against any coercive step by the Centre and Goa government to deport him back to Britain.

“Ever since the birth of baby Ksha in 2005, things started getting sour in the relationship between the petitioners and Raut. The petitioner has been single handedly looking after Ksha throughout as his wife was busy with her modelling assignments,” the petition stated.

Sterry had recently sent out a letter containing graphic details of an ugly and violent scuffle between him and Raut at their Goa home, which was sorted out with the intervention of police. He had also given his version of how and why the marriage crumbled, obviously blaming Raut for it.

Raut, who has walked the ramp for the world’s leading designers like Ungaro, Cavalli, Gucci and Paul Smith, contested Sterry’s version and had said, “If Maxwell is alleging abuse and intimidation, why is he sending you (media) letters? Why is he not resorting to court procedures, which is how things should be.”

Man gets 7-yr RI for raping minor

PTI 25 August 2009, 04:56pm IST

DEHRADUN: A person has been sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment by a court here for kidnapping and raping a minor girl.
Additional District Judge (fourth) Narendra Dutt, while holding Uday Kumar of Sultanpur in UP guilty for the crime yesterday, also slapped a fine of Rs 7,000 on him, police said.

The incident took place on August 23, 2002 when Kumar took away the girl to his house in Sultanpur, they said.

Police raided the house and recovered the girl and handed her over to her family. Subsequently, Kumar was arrested.

In the court, the girl gave the statement that Kumar took her to Agra, Delhi, Lucknow and Sultanpur and raped her for four months before she was recovered by the police.

SC asks Centre to ensure safety of CAT members

TNN 26 August 2009, 01:22am IST

NEW DELHI: Concerned about the safety of members of the Central Administrative Tribunal, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to ensure that minimum courtesy be extended to them and they were not abused or manhandled by litigants or lumpen elements.

Dealing with an incident involving assault of a Bangalore Bench CAT member in Jharkhand by none other than a top police officer, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan laid the general guideline that the Centre and the states would be responsible for providing adequate security to CAT members.

It asked the Centre and the states to provide adequate security to the Tribunal members within eight weeks.

The apex court had taken suo motu notice of a woman IPS officer of IG rank allegedly assaulting the judicial member of the CAT and had issued notices in March last year to the Centre and Jharkhand.

A letter received by the court had narrated how the IG-rank official, Nirmal Choudhary, ordered eight armed police personnel in uniform to assault CAT judicial member B V Rao on February 21, 2008, at Ranchi. Rao was on an official visit to Ranchi from Bangalore when the incident took place.

On the basis of the FIR lodged by Rao against Choudhary, the eight armed police personnel have already been suspended. Later, Choudhary had tendered an unconditional apology and cited unsoundness of mind for her irrational behaviour.

NTPC to file SLP in SC for gas at contracted price from RIL

PTI 25 August 2009, 01:04pm IST

NEW DELHI: State-run NTPC will file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court this week for procuring gas from Reliance Industries‘ KG-D6 at the contracted price of USD 2.34 per mmBtu.

“We will file SLP (in the Supreme Court) within the next 6-7 days,” Power Secretary H S Brahma told reporters here.

NTPC is fighting a case in the Bombay High Court to get gas from RIL at a committed price of USD 2.34 per mmBtu

BSNL decision to disqualify NSN right: Independent panel

PTI 25 August 2009, 05:26pm IST

NEW DELHI: BSNL’s decision to disqualify telecom equipment major Nokia-Siemens from participating in its Rs 32,000-crore GSM expansion project is held right by an independent panel of two former Chief Election Commissioners.

Two former CECs — B B Tandon and T S Krishnamurthy — were mandated to investigate the BSNL decision in the face of protest registered by Nokia-Siemens Network (NSN). The panel appointed by BSNL was duly approved by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).

“BSNL’s selection of other vendors is right… The panel did not find merit in NSN’s argument,” a senior BSNL official told PTI on a condition of anonymity.

NSN did not respond on what would be their next step. The complaint was referred to the panel after NSN, which was disqualified on technical grounds, alleged that the state-run telecom major’s recent 93-million GSM lines tender was conducted in a non-transparent manner.

BSNL had chosen the bids by Ericsson and Huawei, while rejecting the offers made by three other vendors — Nokia Siemens, ZTE and Alcatel Lucent. However, BSNL has not placed the Advanced Purchase Orders (APOs) with the respective vendors so far.

Ericsson has emerged the lowest bidder for North and Eastern regions while Huawei was selected for the Southern region. BSNL is yet to decide on Western part and it may go to the PSU ITI under reservation category.

Q&A: ‘Manipur has become a lawless state’

26 August 2009, 12:00am IST

The recent report of Human Rights Watch on India focuses on the impunity enjoyed by the police. Meenakshi Ganguly , the organisation’s Asia representative, spoke to Jyoti Punwani :

What’s been your experience with the government?
Unlike other abusive states, the Indian state is simply uncaring and takes the ‘band aid’ approach ignoring the problem till it erupts. There is a culture of impunity and of covering up. In Manipur, for example, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has created a force, which believes it is not accountable.

In 2004, Manorama Devi was picked up by the Assam Rifles and found dead five hours later. The prime minister promised justice, and a repeal of the law. But nothing’s happened. For a Manipuri, what does this mean? That the prime minister does not even remember his promise. Manipur has become a lawless state. In Kashmir, people defied boycott calls and voted; Kashmiri Muslims are still defensive about the Pandits. In Manipur, there’s no such space. The state has lost its legitimacy because it can neither provide justice nor safety to its citizens. People are forced to seek the protection of militant groups.

Militants don’t care much for human rights either.
In our Kashmir report, we did a section on human rights abuse by the militants. By and large, people find it difficult to criticise the armed groups in Kashmir and Manipur, both out of fear and loyalty. But it helps that we are an international organisation. Using us, people can get their view of the militants’ brutalities across. But then there’s a Shopian and a Sanjit encounter and we’re back to square one. Both the CMs of Kashmir and Manipur initially accepted the police version of these cases, despite knowing the record of their forces. There needs to be a strong political message to the forces that they will be held accountable. That will only happen if those responsible are prosecuted.

Is that possible?
I’m hopeful. When we released our Kashmir report, the army called me for a four-hour meeting. While there was initial disagreement, in the end our allegations were accepted as fair. It’s not as if abuse is inevitable. When a Rashtriya Rifles camp is set up, the commander is like a zamindar. If you have a professional commander, there are rarely any protests. The goodwill towards the uniform increases dramatically.

Now the Rashtriya Rifles are to counter the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh.
In Chhattisgarh, the state is completely responsible for the Naxalites having gained so much ground. What sort of government unleashes a vigilante group like the Salwa Judum? At least 80,000 adivasis were forced to live in camps, their lives destroyed. But the state’s only response is we must deal with the Naxalites. They have no intelligence network, how will they get information about the Naxalites? Civilians are bound to suffer. But we must acknowledge that the Naxalites too have used civilians forcibly as cooks and porters, and to extract information.

Notice to Maya over arson in Joshi’s house

TNN 26 August 2009, 04:27am IST

LUCKNOW: Rejecting objections of advocate-general Jyotindra Mishra, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday issued notice to chief minister Mayawati in connection with riot and arson at the residence of state Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

The bench also issued notice to CB-CID, governor’s principal secretary, Union government and CBI on the writ filed by Joshi seeking CBI probe into the case.

The division bench, comprising Justice Abdul Mateen and Justice Ashwani Kumar Singh, also directed the state government to submit a progress report on the CB-CID probe into the case. Joshi had claimed that in a bid to save face, the CB-CID had booked five innocents in the case.

Directing the respondents to file counter-affidavit in the matter, the bench fixed October 13 as the next date of hearing.

In the petition, Joshi had stated that while addressing a public meeting on July 15 in Moradabad, she had exhorted the SC/ST women to refuse compensation provided by chief minister under the SC/ST Act.

Joshi further said that she had asked the women to “throw the money on the face of CM Mayawati and tell her that if ever she happens to be a victim of rape then we shall pay Rs 1 crore.”

Though she did not mean to insult Mayawati, an FIR was registered against her under the SC/ST Act in Moradabad on the same day, said Joshi.

Immediately after the FIR was lodged, on the command of the chief minister BSP politicians/MLAs in Lucknow along with anti-social elements and under the protection of senior officials indulged in riot and arson at her residence, she added.

Pendency of cases a worry for PM, CJI

Press Trust Of India /  August 17, 2009, 1:03 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishanan on Sunday voiced concern over huge pendency of cases and judicial vacancies, but skipped the controversial issues of corruption in judiciary and declaration of assets by higher court judges.

Singh said despite its strengths, “India has to suffer the scourge of the world’s largest backlog of cases and timelines, which generate surprise globally and concern at home. In this war on arrears, the apex court has to discharge a vital role.

“The government will not be found wanting at any level in this joint effort. We promise to match each step of the judiciary with two of our own. We will not hesitate to walk the extra mile at every opportunity,” he said.

The Prime Minister and the CJI were speaking at a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts in New Delhi which comes in the midst of a national debate on instances of judicial corruption and raging controversy over declaration of assets by judges of higher judiciary.

Echoing similar sentiments, Balakrishnan said the “chronic shortage” of judicial officers was hindering efforts to overcome the backlog of cases. There are structural obstacles which discourage talented law graduates from joining the judicial services and over 17 per cent posts of judicial officers remained vacant in the subordinate judiciary, he said.

“There has undoubtedly been a chronic shortage of judicial officers, especially at subordinate level and there are also some structural obstacles which discourage talented law graduates from joining judicial services,” the CJI said. Referring to vacancies in high courts and subordinate courts, Singh said meritorious individuals should be appointed timely to judicial posts and vacancies should be filled up “without any loss of time”.

“The existing vacancies in high courts are quite high in number and need to be filled up urgently. I would urge the chief justices of high courts to initiate proposals for quickly filling up these posts.” Referring to the ambitious gram nyayalaya project, he said the legislation for village courts has been enacted in January this year, but is yet to be enforced by the states.

“I would urge that the state governments initiate immediate action to operationalise the Gram Nyayalayas Act in their states. Once the Act is fully implemented, we will have more than 5,000 courts at the intermediate panchayat level. These will bring justice to the doorsteps of the common people,” he said.

Singh said while there could be differing views on the adequacy of the assistance being provided, “this should not hold us from speedily bringing the Act into force”. Concerned over a large number of undertrials languishing in jails, he said, “Many such undertrials have been in jail for periods longer than they would have served had they been sentenced. There have been pronouncements of the high courts and the Supreme Court on this issue but still the number of undertrials in jails continues to be very large.”

The Elusive Consensus

Judges are not any different from others. At least that is what I think. That being so, why should there be a controversy about Their Lordships declaring their assets?

The Chief Justice of India indicated yesterday that a consensus is being reached on this. This is after the Karnataka High Court Judge, Justice Shailendra Kumar, chose to question the authority of the CJI to speak for all judges. Insisting on his right to speak on behalf of judges, the CJI said that the remarks of a Karnataka High Court judge cannot bring “embarrassment” to the judiciary. The CJI described Justice Kumar as “publicity crazy” and said such a thing was not good for a judge.

Well, as the basic issue remains unsolved, Justice Shailendra Kumar and Justice K. Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court have declared their assets. The latter disclosed his assets by sending the details to Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court lawyer and convener of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform. He was responding to a letter from Mr. Bhushan to all the judges in January suggesting that they voluntarily disclose their assets. Justice Kannan has declared that he has Rs 1.03 lakh in bank deposits, investment of Rs 3.87 lakh and Rs 10.59 lakh as deposits in his wife’s name. Congratulations, Mr. Justice Kannan.

Justice Kannan says,” Normally, it may not even sound civil to ask your own brother, sister or even a close friend about his or her financial details without offending his or her sensibilities and evoking a sense of embarrassment. Let us assume that the attitude is never like a peeping Tom’s voyeuristic proclivities- in this case, however, not in a prurient form, to purvey what is in a judge’s wallet but rationalize it on the ground that the person who is entrusted with the task of judging other’s conduct is beyond reproach. Ask this question, what do you do after getting the details? Should a judge be answering everyone how he has got the wealth that he has declared?”

Expressing unhappiness over the ongoing debate on judges’ assets declaration issue, former Chief Justice of India J S Verma says that CJI K G Balakrishnan should cut short the “unsavoury” debate on the issue by making public his own assets, claiming that most of the judges are ready for it.

In India, Judges are not elected as are done in U.S.A. They cannot be removed by people.

Justice Kannan adds:” What do you do with corrupt judges?…….. A judge that is corrupt cannot be tried by his own brother judge or an ordinary magistrate, as any other public servant is tried, can he be? ……If the existing mechanism is perceived as not being successful in preventing corruption in the judiciary, let us evolve better procedures for their recruitment and removal. That will give us answer to who shall access the records of assets of judges.”

Politicians have their own grudge. This is what JD(U) president Sharad Yadav has to say: “Be it judiciary or bureaucracy or media, no one is accountable in this country except political leaders, MPs and MLAs. Every one should be made accountable.”

Even while a consensus seems elusive, I will end with yet another quote from Justice Kannan. “Pompeia was perhaps a terribly wronged woman. In 62 BC she hosted the festival of the Bona Dea (“good goddess”), to which no man was permitted to attend. However a young patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to gain admittance disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that “my wife ought not to be even under suspicion.”


Aug 25th, 2009

Should judges declare their assets?

August 25th, 2009

According to our constitution the law is same for everyone and we are all equals. But you and me know better than that and I guess it is not entirely so in practice. Some privileged lot is more equal than the others. The current debate between a section of judiciary on one hand and the legislature and the general public on the other is a pointer to this fact wherein no less a person than the Chief Justice Of India Mr KG Balakrishnan has indicated that he is not keen on this. Although he possibly cannot say anything publicly about his position but all the vague statements that he has made so far seem to suggest that he does not want judges to come under the ambit of any law wherein they have to declare their assets. In fact when one of the judges of a High Court volunteered to declare his assets the CGI has even gone to the extent of calling this judge ‘a publicity seeker’.

Isn’t the law same for all of us?

It all started off in February 2009 when the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR) issued an Open Letter to Judges of all the High Courts and the Supreme Court to publicly declare their assets. In this letter they suggested that judges of High Court and Supreme Court should voluntarily declare their assets. Here is the relevant extract.

“By doing so, they would be setting an example of transparency in the country which would then be emulated by other public servants in the country. Such voluntary disclosure of assets by Judges (without resort to the RTI Act) would be applauded as an act of statesmanship by the people of this country, at a time when people have become cynical about the integrity of public servants. It would greatly advance the cause of transparency and probity in public life which is the basis of the Supreme Courts judgments.”

As you guys would be aware that the govt did plan to introduce a bill in Parliament wherein the judges would be bound to declare their assets but it was scuttled at the last minute because the judiciary (read CJI) did not want such information to be available in public domain. Pertinent to mention here that people like ex-CJI of India Mr JS Verma, Soli Sorabjee and Fali S Nariman have all endorsed this demand for declaration. As for us, we all have heard so many cases of corruption amongst the judiciary that we now more or less demand that judges declare their assets. But there are quite a few people like Justice K Kannan of Punjab and Haryana High Court who have put forward their arguments against this disclosure. These are-

1. The judges of Supreme Court are already declaring their assets to CJI. The judges of High Court can also do the same. If the CJI is satisfied with this arrangement, asking for these details to be available to public in general is like saying that CJI is not doing his job.

2. What do you do after getting the details? Should a judge be answering everyone how he has got the wealth that he has declared? Imagine a judge inquiring into allegations of disproportionate wealth case of a bureaucrat. In the course of the proceedings, what if the litigant asks the judge, ‘how did you obtain your wealth, before asking me to explain my riches?’

3. A corrupt judge will never really disclose his ill-gotten wealth. Instead it may give an opportunity to certain aggrieved people to be vindictive against an honest judge.

Well, perfectly valid arguments I’d say. But is it enough? I don’t think so. Here are a few more arguments in favor of the disclosure which have not been talked of so far.

1. If they declare their assets the judges can be held accountable for disproportionate income even long after they have retired implying that if a judge does one act of corruption he can be prosecuted at any time in his life, if that act ever comes to light.

2. It would be like impinging upon the powers of CJI who currently enjoys this priviledge of asking for these details.

3. The CJI himself will also come under this ambit unlike it is now (no offence meant to the CJI).

Frankly, non disclosure of the assets is a reflection of our colonial mindset wherein the Judiciary was considered above board. They could do no wrong. But in recent times given the number of cases of impropriety that have come to light it is now a need of the hour that judges be made accountable for their actions and their assets. Union Law and Justice minister Veerappa Moily has said that he is looking into the matter and plans to introduce another ’suitable’ bill in the next session of Parliament. Well, I’ll reserve my comments till such time I see that bill but I really hope he does justice to the word ’suitable’.

Well, those are my views. What are yours? Do you feel that in todays time it is okay to keep the judges above this law or should they be treated like all the other public servants? Tell me. I’m waiting………………Sush Jaitly

Will NTPC knock on apex court’s doors?

Raj Kumar Sahu

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 (New Delhi)

While the two Ambani brothers slug it out in court, over the price of gas, it’s state-led National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) that seems to be caught between a rock and hard place.

NTPC may want to win cheaper gas to serve its shareholders

, but the trouble is that its largest shareholder is the government, which it seems, is in no mood to escalate the fight.

As the gas pricing dispute between the estranged Ambani brothers nears its Supreme Court date, the panel deciding the government’s stand on the dispute met for one final time and said the Petroleum Ministry will file a revised special leave petition on the dispute soon.

M Veerappa Moily, Law Minister, said, “It was an informal meeting and the Petroleum Ministry will file the revised SLP soon.”

Now, what remains unclear is whether at this crucial meeting the government has allowed state-owned NTPC, which is also battling Reliance Industries for cheaper gas, to take its appeal to the next and the ultimate authority, the Supreme Court.

“It’s on NTPC whether to file SLP or not,” Moily said.

But NDTV learnt from sources that NTPC may not approach the Supreme Court at all and that its fight for gas that was negotiated at a cheaper price, will be part of the modified petition that the Oil Ministry will file.
That should help protect NTPC’s interest, though it may not raise the pitch on this battle.

Well, NDTV also learns that an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) may be formed for allocating any production beyond 40 mmscmd from Krishna Godavari Basin’s D-6 block.

However, earlier members of the panel maintained that it is only for overseeing the government’s stand in the gas dispute. It took four meetings of this panel to accept that there are disputes between ministries and now, as the panel met for the last time the focus shifts to the Supreme Court hearing.
But before that it would be interesting to see if the Petroleum Ministry makes any changes at all before filing the SLP again.

Staff of aided minority educational institutions can file writ pleas, rules HC

Employees of government-aided minority educational institutions are entitled to approach the High Court against disciplinary proceedings initiated against them and there is no embargo on invoking the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Allowing a writ appeal filed in the Madurai Bench against the dismissal of the Principal of American College here, a Division Bench comprising Justices V. Ramasubramanian and D. Hariparanthaman said: “Disciplinary proceedings initiated against such employees cannot be said to be beyond the pale of judicial review under Article 226.”

The Bench held that none of the Supreme Court decisions emphasising the right of minority educational institutions to appoint persons of their choice as Principal/Headmaster could be applied in cases of termination/dismissal from service as these cases involved infringement of right to livelihood guaranteed under Article 21.

Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said: “A candidate seeking appointment or promotion to the post of Principal/Headmaster does not have a vested right except a right to be considered. In contrast, a person appointed as Principal/Headmaster gets certain rights vested in him by virtue of such appointment.”

T. Chinnaraj Joseph Jaikumar had filed the present case against his dismissal from the post of Principal of American College. Citing the Supreme Court ruling in the T.M.A. Pai Foundation case (2002), the college management claimed that the Principal, being an employee of a minority institution, was not entitled to file a writ petition.

Rejecting the contention, the Division Bench said special tribunals had not been constituted, as suggested by the apex court, to redress grievances of employees subjected to punishment. “Therefore, as on date, employees of minority institutions, especially those receiving grant-in-aid of the State, cannot be shut out from this court.”

Further, “The suggestion was to create special tribunals as an alternative to other forums. It was not a suggestion to create a forum to replace the writ jurisdiction… After the Supreme Court decision in L. Chandrakumar’s case (1997), even orders of administrative tribunals, constituted as alternative to writ jurisdiction, became vulnerable to writ jurisdiction,” the judges pointed out.

The Bench rejected the contention that the College was administered by the ‘Governing Council of American College,’ a society registered in June 1934 and that a writ against a society was not maintainable. It said the court was empowered to issue directions to any person or authority when an element of public duty was cast upon them.

The Supreme Court in Anadi Mukta Sadguru’s case (1989) held that even a trust was amenable to writ jurisdiction. It was held therein that when public money was paid as government aid, the aided institutions discharge public functions and they become subject to the rules and regulations.

Pinarayi’s plea now in criminal writ section

Express News Service

First Published : 25 Aug 2009 01:07:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 25 Aug 2009 09:42:42 AM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The petition filed by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the Supreme Court challenging the Governor’s order sanctioning his prosecution in the SNC-Lavalin case has been transferred to the criminal writ section. Earlier, the petition had been included in the public interest litigation category.

The inclusion of a personal complaint in the PIL has raised many eyebrows and invited criticism from several quarters. On Monday, the Supreme Court Registrar directed to transfer the petition to section 10, which handles criminal writ petitions.

The petition filed by Parekh and Company on behalf of Pinarayi was caught in legal wrangles from day one. The Supreme Court Registry returned the first petition filed by Pinarayi as neither the Governor nor the CBI was included in the list of respondents. Later, he corrected the petition and added the CBI as a respondent. The petition was then included in the PIL category against norms. The SC will consider the petition on August 31.

Contempt case: Coast Guard DG apologises

TNN 25 August 2009, 05:26am IST

CHENNAI: The director general of the Indian Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, appeared before the Madras high court on Monday and apologised for the authorities’ failure to comply with an order of the court and his own inability to come to court on two earlier occasions.

Noting that the coast guard had intensified its activities after the November 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai, Anil Chopra said he could not attend to court work as he was preoccupied with the national duty.

A division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi, accepting his apologies and letting him go in a few minutes, counselled the official: “National interest requires preference. You must also see that court orders are complied with. We are sure you will make all the endeavour to comply with court orders.”

The matter relates to the travails of Mohammed Abbas Mohideen, who joined the coast guard as assistant commandant (technical) in August 1989. Following a tiff with his superior officers over taking possession of a Thai vessel which had strayed into Indian waters in 1994, “malicious charges” were framed against Mohideen and he was dismissed from service by a coast guard court in 1995.

He filed a writ petition and a single judge ruled in his favour. The coast guard top brass then preferred a writ appeal. Dismissing the appeal in February 2009, a division bench of Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice S Tamilvanan passed strictures against the commanding officer who had framed the charges against Abbas Mohideen and concluded that the whole proceedings had been vitiated by bias and malafide attitude.

While setting aside the dismissal order, the bench had directed the coast guard to reinstate Abbas Mohideen and accord him the due service and promotional benefits. Had it been implemented in letter and spirit, he would have been made a deputy commandant with effect from December 1995 and commandant with effect from August 2002.

Though he was reinstated in May 2009, he was not given pay, allowances and arrears he was entitled to. Assailing the “lethargic attitude” of the officials in complying with court orders, Abbas Mohideen initiated the contempt proceedings, which led to the personal appearance of the coast guard director general in court on Monday.

Besides recording the submissions of the coast guard that the court orders would be given effect to, the judges told the counsel to help Abbas Mohideen meet the director general to express his grievances.

Allow ousted college head to continue, says HC

TNN 25 August 2009, 05:40am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has held that Dr T Chinnaraj Joseph Jayakumar, the ousted principal of The American College in Madurai, is entitled to continue in the post, and directed the higher education authorities to hand over the college administration to him.

A division bench comprising Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice D Hariparanthaman, setting aside the proceedings initiated against the principal, asked the regional director of collegiate education to hand over charge of the administration to him.

Allowing the writ appeal from Dr Chinnaraj, the bench said that the whole proceedings initiated against him, culminating in the order of dismissal, was illegal. The bench also held that he was entitled to continue as principal with all consequential benefits without having to go to a civil court.

It all started when Dr Chinnaraj applied for leave from April 9, 2008 and May 2, 2008 for his trip abroad. He, however, on April 8 withdrew his decision and called off his tour due to “recent developments.”

The Bench observed: “It is possible at times, due to irony of fate, for an insignificant event to get flared up into a huge controversy, is amply demonstrated by the batch of cases on hand.” Police complaints followed by certain untoward incidents occurred. “The Gurukshetra (abode of teachers) became Kurukshetra (battle field), the bench observed.

HC says Siddha doctors need to show proof of qualification

TNN 25 August 2009, 05:32am IST

CHENNAI: The city-based Thiruvancore Raja Vaidhya Salai, whose founder P Vijayakumar was arrested on July 16 for cheating and breach of trust, cannot be reopened unless authentication documents issued by competent authorities are furnished, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justice KN Basha, granting conditional bail to the siddha practitioner on Monday, said: “Vijayakumar shall not practice as he was practising earlier either in siddha or ayurvedic. He should not run the nursing home — Thiruvancore Raja Vaidhya Salai — either by himself or through his relatives or his men, unless and until he produces authenticated documents viz the certificates issued by the Medical Council regarding his qualification and registration before the investigating officer.”

The city police arrested Vijayakumar on July 19 after complaints were received from patients from Dubai and Bangalore alleging that they had been induced to part with huge amounts, ranging from Rs 6.3 lakh to Rs 22 lakh.

His senior counsel, seeking bail, contended that the complaint had been lodged with ulterior motive and that there was no complaint whatsoever from anyone for the past 15 years.

Opposing bail for him, government advocate (criminal side) said a total of 20 cases had been registered against the doctor‘ and that he had obtained bail in three cases so far. He is not a competent medical practitioner, as he has not obtained any certificates from the Medical Council, it was submitted.

Justice Basha, pointing out that Vijayakumar was in jail since July 16, the entire allegations against him are borne out by records and documents. Recording an undertaking given on behalf of Vijayakumar, the judge asked him to give two demand drafts, each for a sum of Rs 2 lakh, to two of the complainants. He must furnish a property security for Rs 50 lakh, and execute a personal bond for Rs 50,000, besides two sureties for a like sum each. He must appear before the police daily at 10.30 for a period of four weeks.

Karnataka HC judge declares assets

Express News Service

First Published : 25 Aug 2009 07:17:36 AM IST

Last Updated : 25 Aug 2009 07:54:12 AM IST

BANGALORE: Karnataka High Court judge Justice D V Shylendra Kumar declared his assets and liabilities and submitted them before the Registrar General of the High Court on Monday.

Justice Kumar had advocated that judges of the Supreme Court and High Court must declare their assets and liabilities to the public and had, recently written a two-part article in The New Indian Express about it.

While submitting details of his assets and liabilities, Justice Kumar told the Registrar General of the High Court that the information should be made available to the public, sources in the High Court said. The Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court is yet to decide whether or not to allow the information to be made available on the website.

Justice Kumar, who had enrolled as an advocate on June 30, 1976 and practised at the Madras and Karnataka High Courts, had, to his credit, made several judgments with public importance and social concern.

Last year, while dealing with a petition regarding licence issue of iron ore mining in Bellary district, he had personally visited the spot and then pronounced the judgment. It was considered a unique judgment in which he had banned mining in forest areas. However, later the division bench of the High Court reversed his judgment.

When contacted, Registrar General of the High Court R B Budhihal refused to comment on Justice Kumar’s declarations.

Meanwhile, former judges of the Supreme Court and High Court are rallying behind Justice Kumar, who had come out openly against apprehensions expressed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on judges declaring assets.

Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde said all judges should declare their assets as “they too are public servants’’.

Hegde, who declared his assets soon after being nominated for the Karnataka Lokayukta, said he “did not find any difference between a judge of a lower court and a superior court. In fact those in the higher position should declare their assets and become more transparent’’.

“A public servant should have the right to ask another public servant’s details. Leaving out judges would send wrong signals.

I am for more transparency in the judiciary, executive and legislature,’’ he said, wondering why Parliament had not approved the Lok Pal Bill yet.

Former Karnataka HC Judge Chandrashekharaiah echoed his opinion. “Every judge should declare his or her assets as the public have a right to know. Why should judges be given special privileges?” he asked.

“Because someone has apprehensions about misuse of the provisions of the RTI Act, we cannot drop it. Let there be some provisions to punish those misusing or found misusing the Act,” he said.


Karnataka HC judge Justice D V Shylendra Kumar’s recent twopart article in The New Indian Express on the issue of judges making their assets public, has stirred up a hornet’s nest.

“Make details of my assets and liabilities available to the public at large,” Justice Kumar directed the Registrar General of the High Court.

HC issues suo motu notice to check illegal growth of colonies in Zirakpur

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 at 0522 hrs Chandigarh:

In order to check the mushrooming of illegal colonies in Zirakpur, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), and Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, to file their replies on a suo motu notice issued by a Single member Bench of the High Court.

The notice was issued by Justice A N Jindal on a news item in an English daily on July 30.

The news item highlighted that a man was electrocuted in a bid to save his inverter from rainwater entering his house due to the non-effective sewage system. Justice Jindal observed that there appears to be a situation of chaos and danger to the health of residents of Zirakpur, which is known as the gateway to the capital of Punjab and Haryana.

“It is the entry point of the three states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, but the Punjab has neglected this area for development. A large number of unauthorised colonies are mushrooming in Zirakpur in an unplanned manner. The real estate developers of the area promise to provide roads, sewage and 24-hour drinking water and electricity supply, but after allotting the flats/plots, they fail to honour their word. The illegal encroachments on the Patiala-Zirakpur highway can be easily spotted. The fault does not lie with the developers but PUDA, which grants permission to the developers to construct flats or carve out colonies after charging hefty amounts for developing the approaching roads, but does nothing at its end,” Justice Jindal said.

Noida land scam: HC stays arrest of four officials

Esha Roy

Posted: Aug 25, 2009 at 0334 hrs IST

Allahabad In a setback to the Uttar Pradesh government, the Allahabad High Court on Monday stayed the arrest of four government officials, who along with 11 others were charged in the multi-crore Noida hotel land scam.

The Division Bench comprising Justices Ravindra Singh YC Gupta has directed the state government not to take any coercive action against the officials.

The next hearing in the case is on September 16. The court has granted a fortnight to the state government to file a counter-affidavit on the petition, said senior advocate Gopal Chaturvedi, appearing on behalf of the petitioners.

The state government had suspended the 15 officials on August 10 and later lodged an FIR against them for their alleged involvement in the allocation of plots in Noida for construction of five-star hotels.

According to the FIR, the government incurred a loss of Rs 4721.14 crore in the allotment.

Of the 15 officials, four— Noida chairman Rakesh Bahadur, Divisional Commissioner of Meerut Dev Dutt, the then Chief Executive Officer of Noida Sanjeev Saran and the then Chief Project Engineer LK Gupta — filed a criminal writ on August 18 in the Allahabad High Court seeking quashing of FIR and a stay on the arrest.

HC order to DM on road to bridge

TNN 25 August 2009, 04:02am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court on Monday directed the Begusarai DM to acquire land for an approach road to the rail-road bridge over the Ganga river between Munger and Begusarai, which is nearing completion.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice P K Misra and Justice Anjana Prakash passed the order on the PIL of lawyer Abhay Shankar Singh, who submitted that though the bridge is almost complete, the administration has not taken any step for providing an approach road to it.

The court disposed of the PIL with a directive to the DM to provide land for the approach road near Sahebpur Kamal in the district.

CJI now seeks consensus among superior court judges on the issue

2 HC judges, including Kumar, declare assets

New Delhi/Bangalore, Aug 25, DH News Service:
Days after differing with the Chief Justice of India over the assets’ disclosure issue, Karnataka High Court judge D V Shylendra Kumar on Monday declared his assets and liabilities before the court’s Registrar General.
Joining Justice Kumar in the midst of a divisive debate over the declaration of assets by the judges of superior courts under the Right to Information (RTI) Act during the day was Punjab and Haryana High Court judge K Kannan, who too declared his assets.

Justice Kannan sent a copy of the declaration to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court. A senior judge of the Madras High Court was expected to follow Justice Kannan’s footsteps.

The move by Justices Kumar and Kannan came in the immediate backdrop of the former’s public articulation that the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts should volunteer to declare their assets within the purview of the RTI Act. He has gone further and questioned the views aired by Chief Justice of India  K G Balakrishnan.

Justice Kannan provided details of assets owned by him and his wife. But he clarified he had not intended to defy the CJI on the issue of judges declaring their assets.

“I am neither taking on the Chief Justice of India nor are my views different from his on the subject of declaration of assets by the judges of Supreme Court and High Courts. I have been misunderstood,” Justice Kannan said.

Reacting to the declaration of assets by the high court judges earlier during the day, Justice Balakrishnan said in the evening that he had no problem if individual judges declared their assets.

‘‘I do not have any problem if individual judges declare their assets, but we have taken a stand before the Delhi High Court,’’ Justice Balakrishnan said, speaking to reporters after a function here on the Supreme Court premises.

However, the CJI said though every high court judge was free to declare his/her assets, the apex court needed to reach a consensus on the issue. “We are trying to evolve a consensus on the issue,” the CJI said.

On Saturday, Justice Balakrishnan had termed as “publicity crazy” the views expressed by Justice Kumar  that the CJI had no “authority to speak for all other judges of the superior courts of this country” on the assets’ declaration issue.

Contentious issue

The issue of assets’ declaration by superior court judges had become a contentious issue ever since the Supreme Court  rushed to the Delhi High Court seeking an injunction against the Central Information Commission’s queries to the CJI early in January. The CJI had initially suggested that the RTI did not apply to the apex court, implying that the judges were not required to make public disclosure of their assets.
Questions were also raised if the superior court judges were “public servants” as defined under RTI, though way back in 1991 the Supreme Court had ruled that the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts were public servants.

The Centre has hardly helped to clarify the situation as it virtually upheld the CJI’s position in a suggestion. It proposed in the aborted Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill earlier this month that the declarations by the judges need not be disclosed but only required to be submitted with the President. Justice Kumar, in his public articulation last week, sought to clarify the situation. “It’s a misnomer to think that the judges of the superior courts are not ready to disclose their assets,” he said.

1997: Superior court judges are public servants, rules SC

1997: Conference of CJs declares judges should voluntarily declare their assets

Jan 2009: Central Information Commission writes to CJI on assets declaration

Jan 2009: Apex court gets Delhi HC injunction against assets’ declaration

July 2009: CJI opposes making public declaration of assets by judges; Justice Kumar questions this view

HC turns down BJP MP’s plea

TNN 24 August 2009, 10:52pm IST

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court, on Monday, refused to stay the arrest of BJP MP Rama Kant Yadav against whom an FIR was lodged under Section 302, 307 of IPC for opening fire on the members of Ulema Council in which one person died. The allegation against the MP was that he shot dead one Abdul Rehman and injured three members of the Council.

Passing the order, a division bench comprising Justice Ravindra Singh and Justice YC Gupta said that the petitioner may surrender in the court concerned.

The allegation in the FIR was that the members of Ulema Council and its national president Aamir Rashadi were going to Azamgarh. The convoy of MP was behind the Council’s fleet of vehicles. The MP’s convey requested for the pass to overtake the Council’s vehicles but due to non-offering of the pass, the two groups clashed resulting into the death of one person and injuries to three others.

The FIR regarding the incident was registered with Phulpur police on August 12. The MP had challenged the validity of the FIR and sought relief to quash it.

Coast Guard Director General tenders apology in HC


Chennai, Aug 24 (PTI) Director General of Coast Guard Vice Admiral Anil Chopra today tendered an apology in the Madras High court for not appearing before it in connection with a contempt application.

Chopra told the court that he was on ‘national duty’ following the November 26 last strike by terrorists in Mumbai and was unable to appear in the court.

A contempt petition was filed against Coast Guard after it failed to implement a court order on the reinstatement of an officer, who was dismissed from service for failing to discharge his duty in a proper manner in 1995.

Chopra, who was told to appear in the court in connection with the contempt application, had failed to do so.

One judge can’t cause embarrassment to judiciary: CJI


Posted: Monday , Aug 24, 2009 at 1744 hrs New Delhi:

Insisting on his right to speak on behalf of judges, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Monday said that the remarks of a Karnataka High Court judge cannot bring “embarrassment” to the judiciary.

“How can the remarks of a single judge cause embarrassment. It (judiciary) is a big institution,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in the Supreme Court.

He was asked whether the judiciary does not feel embarrassed over the remarks of Justice Shailendra Kumar, who had questioned the authority of the CJI to speak for all judges of superior courts on the issue of declaration of assets.

Justice Balakrishnan asked “how can a single judge cause embarrassment to such a big institution”.

He also said he had made some general comments (about judges) and maintained “I think I have got that right”.

Yesterday, the CJI described Justice Kumar as “publicity crazy” and such a thing was good not good for a judge.

Justice Balakrishnan said there was a need to reach consensus on the issue of declaration of assets by judges.


Joshi’s writ demanding CBI probe to be heard tomorrow


Lucknow, Aug 24(PTI) Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi has filed a writ petition in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court seeking direction for a CBI probe into arson at her residence.

The writ petition, which was filed on Aug 22 will come up for hearing tomorrow.

On July 15, few BSP workers led by some leaders allegedly set Joshi’s house on fire after which a case was registered by the police.

Though the state government had ordered a CB-CID probe into the incident, Congress had been demanding a CBI inquiry.

The party had also launched a state-wide agitation to protest against the incident and press for its demand of a CBI probe.

Mathrubhumi – English News – Pinarayi’s writ shifted from PIL section

New Delhi: The writ petition filed by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan challenging the decision of the Governor in the Lavlin case, has been shifted from public interest litigations section to criminal writ sections.

SIKKIM: Hearing on NH 31-A writ petition in Supreme Court today

Posted by barunroy on August 24, 2009


DARJEELING: The hearing on the writ petition concerning the forceful closure of the National Highway 31 A by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) will take place in the Supreme Court on August 24.

Top GJM leaders Amar Lama and Anmole Prasad today headed to New Delhi to attend the scheduled hearing tomorrow.

While talking with the reporters today, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said that in the year 2005, OP Bhandari, the former OSD of the Chief Minister of Sikkim had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court on the problems faced by the Sikkimese people due to regular National Highway bandh.

In the petition, Mr. Bhandari had stated that Sikkim should be kept aloof from the bandh purview of National Highway 31A.

“At a time of filing the writ petition, Mr Bhandari had made Gorkha Rashtriya Mukti Morcha as the respondents. Last year, the writ petition was admitted making GJM, Jan Jagran Manch, Jan Chetna and Amra Bengali as the respondents,” GJM general secretary added.

Speaking to SIKKIM EXPRESS over phone today, Mr. Bhandari said, “I have filed the petition keeping in view the interest of the Sikkimese people”.

At the same time, the GJM general secretary informed of starting an awareness campaign by three of its members in the North East region of India from today. “The team will put its best effort in making all the Gorkhali residing in NE states about the importance of Gorkhaland,” he said.

Regulate indecent depiction in media: NCW

Aarti Dhar

Dominating Kalyani or ‘Dadi Sa’ of television serial Balika Vadu or Ammaji of ‘Na Aana Is Desh Meri Lado’ portraying women in a negative role, or for that matter scantily clad women in clips advertising men’s products may require the government’s approval before being aired or published if the recommendation for a Central authority to regulate representation of women is approved by Parliament.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has made this suggestion in a fresh draft of the Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women and Children Act, 2008, an amendment to the existing Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

The NCW has, however, stressed on “an obligation to create and maintain a self-regulatory mechanism.”

NCW chairperson Girija Vyas told journalists here on Monday that the recommendations had been sent to Centre.

“The existing Act does not have enough powers to deal with the electronic media, internet and mobile phones. It also lacked proper implementation and there were hardly any convictions, hence the need for a new law.” The proposed Central authority would be headed by the Member Secretary, NCW, with representatives from the Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member experienced in working on women’s issue to be nominated by the women’s panel.

The authority would receive complaints, appeals and grievances or take suo motu notice with powers to requisition tapes of any programmes or advertisements of publication .

It would recommend to the Centre, guidelines or norms or amendments to laws and be vested with the powers of a civil court. Dr. Vyas said. “It is equally important that women refuse to be portrayed as commodities and in a derogatory manner. Women should act as role models.”

Widening the scope of the Act, the definition of “advertisement” will now include any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document, laser, light, sound, electronic or any other media.

Women’s panel asks Noida old-age home to reimburse ex-resident

Pragya Kaushika

Posted: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 at 0112 hrs Noida:

The National Commission for Women has come to the aid of a 66-year-old woman who was allegedly thrown out by an old-age home in Noida’s Sector-55.

Asha Rani spent around eight months at the Anand Niketan Vridha Sewa Ashram before she was thrown out on March 2.

In a verdict against the ashram and one of its trustees, Neelima Mishra, NCW member Yasmin Abrar ordered the trust to pay Rs 60,000 to Rani, who had deposited Rs 1 lakh with the ashram for her stay, besides Rs 8,000 as entry fees.

When contacted, Abrar said the ashram told the Commission that Rs 30,000 had been deducted by the Income Tax department. The ashram also said Rani’s room had been kept locked in her absence and had not been rented out. “They were quoting a much higher figure as expenses but when I intervened, they agreed to charge only Rs 10,000 as expenses,” Abrar said.

“I am glad that at least some justice has been delivered. The old age home had locked my belongings in the room I was staying in and for the past five months I have been living without my things. They have been returned to me now, after the NCW ordered the old age home to do so,” Rani said.

Rani was thrown out of her home in Azadpur by her two sons and daughter-in-laws two years ago. “My husband refused to leave any property in my name and my sons thought I was a burden. My relatives helped me in finding this old-age home, where I was harassed, after I was forced to leave home. Now, I am living in an ashram in Haridwar,” Rani said.

At the ashram in Noida, Rani was allegedly denied food and the company of other residents for trying to be “friendly and social”. Sunita Khurana, Rani’s niece, said Rani told her over the phone that the old age home had stopped her supply of food from the mess and that others at the home had been warned against talking to her. She was asked to leave the home.

“We appointed a tiffinwala for her but we were not allowed inside the old-age home to meet her,” Sunita has alleged.

Women’s panel to tackle abandoned NRI wives’ complaints

( Aug 24 2009 )

With a rise in cases of Indian women being deserted by their husbands on foreign shores, the National Commission for Women (NCW) Monday announced setting up of an NRI Cell on Aug 27 to tend to such complaints and counsel the victims. “Parliament has designated NCW as the coordinating agency at the national level to receive and process all the complaints related to Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian husbands. We have decided to launch a NRI cell to counsel the women in this regard,” NCW chairperson Girija Vyas told reporters in New Delhi.
According to official data, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has so far received 42 complaints of women being abandoned by their NRI husbands. In 2008, the ministry reported 55 such cases.

NCW Announces Special Cells For Violence Against Women In Delhi

Last Updated: 25-08-2009 09:35:20 IST

The National Commission for Women has plans for launching special cells which will put a check on the increasing number of violence cases against women in the capital city of India, New Delhi.

The Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Delhi Police have been roped in by the NCW for the project, which they plan to launch by the end of 2009. The project will be administered and sponsored by the Tata Institute and funded entirely by the NCW.

“The cell will provide services in policy assistance on criminal complaints, placements, referral to family service agencies, counselling, legal aid and generating awareness on violence against women,” NCW chairperson Girija Viyas told reporters in New Delhi on Monday.

According to Vyas, NCW came up the idea of launching these special cells after the NCW’s pilot project “Save the Home – Save the Family” became a huge success.

“The project has been a great success and in a year we received 12,895 complaints of domestic violence. Of these, action was taken in 7,509 and 1,077 complaints have been sorted out,” she said.

Vyas added that police personnel will be trained and sensitized by the NCW so that they have the potential to deal with any form of violence against women.

‘Maya using public money to honour Kanshi Ram’s will’

Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN 25 August 2009, 02:48am IST

NEW DELHI: The UP government’s Dalit card argument that chief minister Mayawati’s statues were installed in parks to honour BSP founder Kanshi Ram’s last wishes virtually boomeranged as the PIL petitioners wanted to know from the Supreme Court whether public money could be spent to honour a private person’s will.

The state in its response to the PIL, which questioned crores of rupees being spent from the exchequer to install the CM’s statues, had said that Kanshi Ram in his will had said that Maya’s statues should be installed alongside his own. The petitioners, argued before a Bench that the gist of the state’s argument was that it was implementing the will of Kanshi Ram.

“Should the state pay for implementation of a private person’s will,” they asked. But senior advocate Harish Salve said, “The issue raised in the PIL is not justiciable in a court of law. The budgetary allocations were passed by the assembly and there is no hint of the sanctioned money being misused. There had been no violation of any law or fundamental rights of the petitioners. How is this PIL maintainable,” he said.

PIL against DGP and ADGP for fund embezzlement

TNN 25 August 2009, 06:34am IST

RANCHI: A PIL has been filed at Jharkhand High Court against director general of police (DGP) V D Ram, additional director general of police (ADGP) Rajiv Kumar and a dozen others for embezzlement from the Secret Services (SS) funds.

The PIL filed by advocate Ram Subag Singh alleged that DGP V D Ram and ADGP Rajiv Kumar have embezzled funds drawn from the state treasuries at Project Bhavan and Doranda.

The petitioner has alleged Ram withdrew Rs 5.6 crores from the SS fund and spent it within 15 days. Similarly, Kumar withdrew Rs 2.5 crores from the SS fund. The petitioner further alleged that the secretaries of the Union and the state governments and 11 other respondents are also parties to the alleged embezzlement.

In this regard, a letter of the Comptroller and Accountant General dated June 2, 2009 said that non-observance of provisions of Special Branch (SB) manual and the Bihar Financial Rules (BFR) have taken place. Further, Rule 300 of Bihar Treasury Code, Volume I, as per the law has not been observed nor the corresponding administrative audit has taken place.

The petition quoted deputy accountant general, M Roy Malakar, in a letter dated June 17, 2009 in which he doubted that “In view of the huge amounts involved and the inordinate delay in submission of the requisite documents, the possibility of fraud, embezzlement and misappropriation of government funds cannot be ruled out.”

The petitioner prayed for a CBI inquiry and removal of the DGP and the ADGP from their posts suspecting that they are could influence the investigation while holding their posts.

Incidentally, two similar PILs had been filed by Om Prakash and Raju Kumar against DGP and ADGP on July 17 and July 23, for embezzlement in the SS funds meant for Naxal operations and spy networks.

PIL challenges ban on Jaswant book

TNN 25 August 2009, 06:17am IST

AHMEDABAD: Five days after the state government banned Jaswant Singh’s controversial book ‘Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence’, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in Gujarat High Court on Monday, challenging it. This PIL may come up for hearing before a larger Bench headed by the chief justice later this week.

Raising the issue of fundamental rights of citizens to access the book, citybased activists Prakash Shah and Manishi Jani have challenged the notification issued by the government forfeiting and prohibiting publication, sale and circulation of the book under section 95 of the CrPC.

They have termed this as a “colourable exercise by Narendra Modi government with political considerations in view of the approaching by-elections.” They have dubbed this as “an example of defective exercise of power” as the notification does not provide concrete grounds for banning the book.

“The justification for ban such as “national interest”, “misleading to the public”, “tranquility of the public”, “against the interest of the state” are extraneous to the provisions of section 95,” stated the petition adding that it’s not enough merely to reproduce the language of various sections, but the government should specify reasons.

In fact, the petitioners have argued that the reason that government fears communal instigation with denigration of Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru doesn’t stand at all because the two leaders do not form a class that could be incited for rioting as per section 153 B of IPC.

Maintaining that they do not share the political ideology of expelled BJP leader, the petitioners have demanded revocation of ban on Singh’s book by stating that it’s a historical work and Singh has dealt with the subject purely from historical point of view and avoided offensive and abusive language. The petition demands an immediate stay on the government’s decision and urges the court to allow the book to be made available for reading in Gujarat.

Petition not to consider coach for Dronacharya award dismissed

Published by: Noor Khan
Published: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 at 20:12 IST

F Prev Next L

// Kochi: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) praying not to consider Kabaddi coach J Udaykumar for the Dronacharya award on the alleged ground of molestation and corruption was today dismissed by the Kerala High Court with a cost of Rs 50,000.

Dismissing a petition by former coach Shibu K Paul of Kottayam, a division bench, comprising Chief Justice S R Bannurmath and Justice A K Basheer, termed as baseless and vague, Paul’s contention that there were serious allegations of molestation and corruption against Udaykumar and so he should not be considered for the award.

The Bench said the PIL was filed out of jealousy and vendetta against Udaykumar and directed Paul to pay a cost of Rs 50,000 to him.

Udaykumar’s name did not figure in the final list of awardees as it was dropped on disciplinary grounds.

Bombay HC reserves judgement on PIL challenging ATKT facility

Updated on Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 16:12 IST

Mumbai, Aug 25: The Bombay High Court today reserved its judgement on a PIL challenging ATKT facility for Standard XI.

The Court also stayed the ammendment to the SSC board rules which introduced the Allowed To Keep Term (ATKT) facility for Standard XI for the first time.

According to the amendment, students, who have failed in one or two subjects in the Standard X exams would be allowed to take admissions to Standard XI provided they clear the pending subjects by March next year.

Bureau Report

Noida hotel plots: officers get High Court relief, no arrests

Express News Service Posted: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 at 0110 hrs Allahabad:

The Allahabad High Court on Monday granted a stay on the arrest of four officers, including three IAS officers, charged with irregularities in what the Mayawati government alleges is a multi-crore scam in allotment of hotel plots in Noida.

The four, along with 11 others, were suspended on August 10 for alleged involvement in land allocation for construction of five-star hotels in 2006.

Giving them relief, the Division Bench of Justices Ravindra Singh and Y C Gupta directed the Uttar Pradesh government against taking any coercive action against the four. The Bench also granted a fortnight’s time to the government to file a counter-affidavit on the petition, Gopal Chaturvedi, senior advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioners, said.

The court will next hear the case on September 16.

The four officers had filed a criminal writ on August 18 in Allahabad High Court: they sought quashing of the FIR filed by the state government and a stay on their arrest.

The FIR was lodged with the Noida Sector-20 police station on August 12 — it says the state exchequer suffered a loss of over Rs 4,721 crore from the auction.

The petitioners are then Noida Authority chairman Rakesh Bahadur, Meerut Divisional Commissioner Dev Dutt, then Chief Executive Officer of Noida Authority Sanjeev Saran, and then chief project engineer LK Gupta.

State moves high court over dropping of MCOCA

Shibu Thomas, TNN 25 August 2009, 04:19am IST

MUMBAI: The state government has moved the Bombay high court to challenge the dropping of all charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against 11 Malegaon blast accused, including former armyman Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi on Monday declined to entertain a request by the prosecution to stay the MCOCA court order. The judges, however, asked a Nashik sessions court not to commence trial in the case till September 8.

The state’s principal argument is that the special MCOCA judge erred in not appreciating the prosecution’s case. The petition said the state had followed all requirements mandatory under MCOCA, including the existence of two charge sheets as well as permission from appropriate authorities.

A special court’s decision last month to drop MCOCA charges in the case came as a blow to the Anti-Terrorism Squad. The deletion of the stringent anti-gangster law’s provisions meant the accused would have to only face the provisions of the Indian Penal Code. MCOCA admits confessions made by the accused to the police but this is not possible under IPC. Bail provisions are also tougher under MCOCA.

A blast in Malegaon on September 29, 2008 killed six persons. A bike used in the blasts was allegedly traced to Pragya, whose trail led to other accused.

(With inputs from Mateen Hafeez)

Second judge ready to reveals assets

MR Venkatesh, Hindustan Times

Email Author

Chennai, August 24, 2009

First Published: 19:57 IST(24/8/2009)

Last Updated: 23:49 IST(24/8/2009)

wo days after a Punjab and Haryana High Court judge voluntarily made his family’s assets public, a Madras High Court judge, Justice K Chandru on Monday came forward to make his wealth details public.

Justice Chandru told Hindustan Times that in accordance with an internal resolution adopted by the High Court judges, he had already given details of his personal assets to the chief justice.

“I have even said it can be put on the Madras High Court website,” but it has to be authorisd by the chief justice since it is not a private website, Justice K Chandru said.

Justice Chandru is the third judge to speak out on the issue within four days, in a move seen as a chain reaction triggered by Karnataka high court judge, DV Shylendra Kumar, in a newspaper article last week.

Justice Kumar had written that it was incorrect to assume that majority of judges were opposed to declare their assets and the Chief Justice of India (CJI) was not authorized to speak on behalf of all the judges.

CJI KG Balakrishnan had reacted angrily to Justice Kumar’s outburst, and had called him “publicity crazy” on Sunday.

Favouring a consensus among all the judges on the issue, Justice Chandru said, “this could be meaningfully done only if there is consensus among all the 600 Judges of higher Indian Judiciary.”

Referring to the declaration by Justice K.Kannan of Punjab and Haryana high court, he said not all judges are avid bloggers, “nor do I have a personal blog myself,” Justice Chandru, known for his fearless and progressive judgements, said.

The chief justice could release the information about the assets of individual judges, but “unless it is a statutory return”, even the he could well within the law say that the details could be had from individual Judges who are willing to furnish it, he said.

“Ultimately, this issue will go around in circles unless there is a consensus among all the judges (of the higher judiciary),” Justice Chandru said.

IIT-Delhi professors go on mass casual leave demanding pay hike


August 25th, 2009

NEW DELHI – Faculty members of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Delhi went on mass casual leave on Tuesday protesting disparities in pay.

Earlier, professors at IIT-Madras went on a mass causal leave on Friday, while their colleagues in IIT-Bombay boycotted classes on Monday.

Professors alleged that the Ministry has completely ignored the Mehra Committee recommendations which recommended hikes in pay scale of apex technical educational institutions.

On Friday, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had said he will discuss the issues raised by IIT professors with officials. (ANI)

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LEGAL NEWS 24.08.2009

Online admission: Another ‘hacked’ victim moves HC

Express News Service Posted: Monday , Aug 24, 2009 at 0032 hrs Ahmedabad:

In Yet another grievance related to the online admission procedure for professional courses, a student from Nirma University of Science and Technology, Ahmedabad has approached the Gujarat High Court.

The student wants the HC quash the action of the Admission Commission for Professional Courses (ACPC) to arbitrarily transfer him from Nirma University to an engineering college in Vasad, Anand district.

The petitioner, identified as Akash Gamdha from Ahmedabad, had passed the Class XII board examination with 95 per cent. After undergoing the online admission procedure, he secured admission at Nirma University’s Information Technology faculty as per his choice in July.

After having been allotted a roll number and attending

a few classes, Gamdha came to know on July 31 that he had been transferred to a Vasad college. On approaching the ACPC authorities, he was told that his password was hacked and that his admission was shifted to Vasad.

In the petition filed through his counsel, S K Patel, Gamdha has contended that since he had secured admission at the reputed Nirma University, there is no question of him opting for a college in Vasad.

He also stated that out of the total 12 alternate choices, he never mentioned the name of the Vasad

college, so his admission to Nirma University should continue.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi has ordered to let the student study at the Nirma University till the final verdict on the petition.

Intimidated, animal lovers approach HC for protection

Post Comment

Neha Sinha Posted: Monday , Aug 24, 2009 at 0121 hrs New Delhi:

Animal lovers who feed stray dogs have approached the High Court for protection through as many as seven different petitions.

Last week, the first hearings were held on these petitions; all are related to the same issue — dog lovers being harassed, and in the case of some women, molested, for feeding and taking care of stray dogs.

The High Court has now served a notice to the government.

Before approaching the High Court, these animal lovers shared their experiences with each other. It emerged that the number of people who had problems with neighbours was very high. Some women have complained of molestation, and many say RWAs and the local police have actually become part of the problem. Feeding dogs has set off a trend of criminal intimidation, they say.

“We wanted to know if these problems existed on a larger scale. Most of the responses we got confirmed that they do, and everyone who wrote in urged us to go to court,” says Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Friendicoes animal shelter, one of the petitioners.

“The dogs are aggressive and they bite” is the commonest complaint dog lovers get. “It’s absolutely untrue,” writes in a dog lover from Vasant Kunj. “People make these stories up to discredit dogs, even those that have been de-wormed and vaccinated,” she says.

“People have thrown stones at me and used foul language. On one occasion, pups were smeared with white paint and thrown into a dump full of broken glass. Once the paint hardened the puppies could not move their limbs,” says the woman who feeds dogs in D-block, Vasant Kunj.

A 66-year-old woman from Golf Links writes in that despite being a senior citizen, she has had stones hurled at her for feeding dogs. She says she considers dogs on the road “homeless” dogs, not strays. But despite having a letter from the Ministry of Environment and Forests authorising her to feed dogs, police complaints have been filed against her.

A resident of Chittaranjan Park complains that stray dogs are not allowed inside public parks. “Only expensive pedigrees like Beagles are let in. Residents have also resorted to throwing boiling water on any stray animal, dogs or cats.” She also says that “whether the dogs bark or not” she and her family have been threatened and told that the MCD will be called in to “take care” of the dogs.

A woman who writes in from South Extension says “people want that stray dogs should be invisible, forage from dustbins, and lie dead on the road”, while a Mehrauli resident adds that people in his colony hit dogs but want to make sure “they don’t die in front of their houses”.

A resident of Panchsheel Park, who has been feeding dogs there for 15 years, says her RWA has been harassing her. “I have to face my cruel neighbours for dogs who have done nothing to endanger anyone else’s life.”

Such is the level of intimidation that many do not want to be named. “We have put in this case to protest against what is going on. Many of those who are suffering are too frightened to be named. We hope the case sets a precedent,” Seshamani says.

HC judge who declared assets could be first and only judge-blogger

Maneesh Chhibber Posted: Monday , Aug 24, 2009 at 0203 hrs New Delhi:

Punjab and Haryana High Court judge K Kannan, who has become the first sitting judge to make public his assets, is possibly also India’s first and only sitting judge who airs his views on court judgments and other issues on his personal blog.

From lawyers’ strikes to lawyers failing to switch off their mobile phones inside the courtroom, from abortions to homosexuality, from unregulated fertility clinics to a court judgment that held unshorn facial hair to be an essential condition for securing admission in a Sikh educational institute — the views of Justice Kannan on all these and more can be read on his blog, ‘Justice Kannan, Being Non-Judgmental’, at

In a letter to Supreme Court lawyer and accountability activist Prashant Bhushan, Kannan has put down the details of assets owned by him and his wife, Rajeshwari Kannan — together, they amount to Rs 59.66 lakh.

On Sunday, the judge clarified to The Indian Express that by doing so he did not intend to defy the Chief Justice of India on the issue of judges declaring their assets.

“I am not taking on the Chief Justice of India and nor are my views different from his (on the subject of declaration of assets by the Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts). I have been misunderstood,” he said.

A post on his blog on the subject says: “Ask this question, what do you do after getting the details? Should a judge be answering everyone how he has got the wealth that he has declared? Imagine a judge enquiring into allegations of disproportionate wealth case of a bureaucrat. In the course of the proceedings, what if the litigant asks the judge, ‘how did you obtain your wealth, before asking me to explain my riches?’

“It may not be a daily occurrence, but consider the mischief that the right to demand the assets statement of a judge could entail. Again, judges are not in the same league as politicians. It is precisely for this reason that the judge, who granted an order of stay of the CIC order, said that judges could not be treated like politicians and ordinary government servants. Politicians are elected by people; they have a right to know the financial antecedents. A corrupt politician may not be re-elected again, if the voter believes that the politician has been corrupt.”

On strikes by lawyers, Justice Kannan writes, “Bandh, as a desi form, is gift of Bharath to the world… We are master craftsmen in perverting or perfecting (depending on what your perceptions are) the tools of protest… Lawyers have different motivations for the boycotts… As Boycott gave his own name to the form of practice against him, a lawyer will one day give this word a new identity and on that day, lawyering would mean boycotting!”

His comment on the Delhi High Court judgment decriminalising same-gender, consensual sex: “Surprisingly, the judgment that runs into 105 pages written with remarkable lucidity, verve and logical persuasiveness does not examine religious objections or what are perceived as against Indian culture. One may suspect that the omission is deliberate.”

On G 8: “G8 is some kind of a big brother… an assemblage of self styled mighty eight that condescends to set the agenda for governance for the rest of the world…”

On land acquisition: “Could there at least be attempts to ensure some statutory changes to placate the righteous indignation against the systematic deprivation of property from farmers for establishing industries…?”

On the subject of controversies like those around painter M F Husain and actor Shilpa Shetty — involving alleged cases of hurting religious sentiments — the Judge writes, “There is a mutual distrust among the various communities and we have to evolve a new ethos and a holistic approach to understanding art in all its diverse facets. The time has just not arrived. Read the provisions of Indian Penal Code on offences against hurting religious sentiments, obscenity and homo-sexuality. You cannot have the provisions in the statute book and still say that certain sections of the public, the police or the magistrates are wrong, can you?”

The judge has been posting since 2007 — this year, broadly at the rate of once every month. His profile says his interests are reading and writing, he enjoys Mani Ratnam’s films, and that his favourite music is Carnatic.

MP HC rejects reservation procedure


The Madhya Pradesh High Court rejected the plea for staying Bhopal civic bodies elections and issued an order that ward-wise women reservation process should not be completed without the court’s permission.

The joint bench comprising Chief Justice A K Patnaik and Justice Ajit Singh gave the verdict during the hearing of a petition which challenged the women’s reservation for the civic bodies polls. The next hearing would be held after 15 days.

In their petition, Bhopal-based Ashok Malpani and Krishna Ghatge pleaded to stay the polls citing that instead of fifty per cent reservation for women, seventy five per cent was being done, which was a violation of High Court’s directive.

The petitioners counsel Pankaj Dikshit argued that provision of 33 per cent reservation had already existed which included reservations for ST and SC candidates. But the government had amended the provision to provide 50 per cent reservation which was more than the existing provision.

The court also sought reply from the principal secretary,(Urban Administration), Bhopal collector and Bhopal municipal corporation commission with the prescribed time frame.


Allahabad HC issues notices to CEO, Noida 2 others


Hearing a contempt petition, the Allahabad High Court issued notices to Mohinder Singh, the chief executive officer of NOIDA and two others asking them to appear in person before the Court on September 15, and show cause as to why the charges for willful disobedience of the order dated January 29, 2009 passed by this Court in first appeal may not be framed for punishing them under the provisions of Contempt of Court Act.

Passing this order, Justice Sabhajeet Yadav directed to fix September 15, 2009 as the next date of hearing. The Court passed this order on a contempt petition filed by Kendreeya Karmchari Sahkari Grih Nirman Samiti Ltd, NOIDA, through its secretary.

It is stated that on August 12, 1994, the NOIDA authority had made an allotment of residential plots in favour of 1,754 members of applicant society. After that, individual members of the applicant society were given letter of allotment. The aforesaid allotment of applicant’s society was however cancelled by NOIDA on May 5, 1998.


Educational institutes should be provided tax benefits, says HC
Press Trust Of India / New Delhi August 24, 2009, 0:04 IST

Educational institutes having multiple objectives, including imparting education, cannot be denied the benefit of income tax exemption, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

Allowing a petition of Jaypee Institute of Information Technology Society (JIITS), a division Bench headed by Justice A K Sikri asked the Director General of Income Tax to register the deemed university under the Income Tax Act and provide tax benefits.

The Bench rejected the arguments of the IT department that Jaypee Institute could not be registered under the Act as it was also providing extramural studies, extension programme and field outreach activities, besides imparting education.

Extramural studies are provided by a university or an institution for students who are away from the campus or those who are unable to attend the classes.

“Real education is one that makes a student socially relevant. For this purpose, his greater interface with society is required. The UGC perceives this can be achieved through extramural, extension and field action related programmes. If pure learning, which is one of the purposes of the university, is to survive it will have to be brought into relation with the life of the community as a whole, not only with the refined delights of a few gentlemen of leisure,” the court observed.

Allahabad HC: Ex minister Anand Sen released on bail in Shashi Murder case


Former Uttar Pradesh food processing minister and ruling BSP MLA Anand Sen Yadav, accused in the infamous Shashi murder case, was released from jail on conditional bail granted by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.

The HC had granted him conditional bail for two months on August 12. He was in Faizabad jail since June 15, 2008.

The counsel for Anand Sen Yadav said he was released today and not earlier due to some holidays and other technicalities.

On October 22, 2007, a law student Shashi was found missing under mysterious circumstances from Faizabad. Later, she was found dead.

The deceased’s father had alleged the role of the ruling party’s MLA in the crime.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati had then removed Yadav from the Cabinet and had sought CBI probe into the case, which was, however, turned down by the agency.

The former state minister had later surrendered before the Ghazipur police in Lucknow.

Police had already nabbed two co-accused into the abduction and killing case, which included Anand Sen’s driver Vijay Yadav and Seema Azad.

Seema had already got bail from the court, while Vijay is incarcerated in jail.


Karnataka judge publicity crazy, says an upset CJI

August 23, 2009 By: admin Category: News

Joining issue with Justice D.V. Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka HC, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Sunday accused him of being “publicity crazy” for going to the press in support of declaration of assets by judges.

Judges free to declare assets: CJI

24 August 2009

23 Aug : Seeking to dispel the impression that he was against disclosure of assets by judges, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has said the members of higher judiciary are free to do so and attacked Karnataka High Court Judge D V Shylendra Kumar as being “publicity-crazy”.

He also said he has the right to speak on behalf of all judges as head of judiciary and this is the practice in judicial systems in other countries too.

“The public has a right to know what is happening in judiciary and I am telling and I stand by what I have said on disclosure of assets by judges,” Balakrishnan told a news agency.

He said, “If the judges want to declare their assets, no one can prevent (them). How can I prevent. If the law comes everybody has to declare.”

The CJI said Justice Kumar, who had said that the CJI had no authority to speak on behalf of other judges, wants publicity and that is why he has written on the issue, which is not good for a judge.

“He wants publicity and such a thing is not good for a judge. Judges should not be publicity-crazy,” he added.

Balakrishnan said he has spoken about the declaration of assets by Supreme Court judges which they are doing.

In the absence of law to make public the disclosure of assets, there is no agreement among the judges in this regard and a consensus has to be developed, he said.

Senior advocate and Constitutional expert K K Venugopal said, “I agree with the judge of the Karnataka High Court that all judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts should make complete disclosure of assets.

“This will only enhance the prestige of the Supreme Court and High Courts and also enhance the confidence that public have in administration of justice,” he said.

While former Law Minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan was in agreement with the views of Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the high court, noted jurist P P Rao said being the head of the judiciary as an institution; the CJI was entitled to speak on the contentious issue.

“The CJI can certainly speak on behalf of the judiciary as he is the head of the institution,” Rao said.

Govt may monitor phone calls to counter terror threat

PTI 24 August 2009, 05:41pm IST

NEW DELHI: The government, in the wake terror threats, is planning to set up a centralised system to monitor communications on mobile phones, landlines and the internet.

The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), a telecom research and development organisation, is working on the Telecom Security project, which will help the government to monitor both calls in the country through a centralised system.

Talking about the project, C-DoT Executive Director P V Acharya said: “It is viewed as a national project … Basically, it is about monitoring certain messages or conversations so that we can ensure security of the country.

Essentially, our technology would provide an interface to operator of any service or technology and it will give them access to the messages traversing through their network,” he said.

The present system of surveillance is managed by individual operators, and a phone is tapped and call details are given when law enforcement agencies ask for them.

The government has a Signal Intelligence Agency, a joint service organisation manned by personnel from the army, navy and airforce, which monitors military links (wireless) of other countries.

However, it does not have a centralised monitoring system for voice calls on the mobile, landlines and internet.

The government has not yet decided on how the surveillance system will work.

“We will just provide an opportunity to this … but how this would be done depends on the agreement between the operators and the government,” Acharya said.

Declining to share technical details of the project, Acharya said the first phase of the project will cost Rs 400 crore. It will end next year.

The need for lawful intervention is being felt more after the terror attacks in November last year, when the terrorists were in contact with their instructors on the phone.

Lawyers for national judicial commission

TNN 23 August 2009, 10:21pm IST

KANPUR: The state unit of All India Lawyer’s Union (AILU) on Sunday demanded the constitution of a national judicial commission and decided to send a proposal to this effect to the law ministry.

In a meeting held under the chairmanship of its state president Balwant Singh, the union discussed the issue and said judicial commission was a need of the hour in order to completely abolish corruption prevalent in judiciary.

The members unanimously condemned the efforts of the Central government to give special status to judicial officials. Saeed Naqvi, advocate and general secretary of the union, said: “Judges (declaration of assets and liabilities) Bill 2009 was presented in Rajya Sabha by the Central government on August 3, 2009. Section 6 of the bill had given a special status to judicial officers. According to the provision, nobody could ask them to disclose their assets except for the chief justice.” He said it was wrong as they were no different from any other person and hence in the purview of right to information. The members also condemned efforts to exclude judges from the Right To Information Act.

CBI closes probe into Nobel theft

TNN 24 August 2009, 02:19am IST

SANTINIKETAN: All hopes of recovery of Rabindranath Tagore’s stolen Nobel medallion have been dashed with CBI appealing to the court to declare the case closed for want of any significant clue into the crime.

The CBI authorities had informed Visva Bharati University that they have stopped their investigation their second attempt at recovering the medallion and 49 other priceless artefacts as they had not found any significant clues. The agency’s original letter was submitted with the Bolpur court and the university authority was forwarded a copy. The letter was written on August 20 and signed by the SP, special crime branch, CBI, Kolkata.

Manimukut Mitra, the registrar of Visva Bharati, said: “We received the letter on August 21. It is not clear whether this closure of investigation is final or temporary.” Mitra said the matter would be placed before the executive committee at its next meeting to decide on their next action.

The priceless medallion and 49 other artefacts were stolen from Rabindra Bhavan on March 25, 2004. CBI took up the case five days later on March 30. After three years during which time several arrests were made and hundreds of Visva Bharati employees interrogated CBI declared the case closed on August 30, 2007 with none of the artefacts having been recovered.

CBI asked for permission to reopen the case again on September 18, 2008, following some developments in Bangladesh. The probe was taken over by P S Bose, the then DSP, CBI Kolkata. However, Bose himself was charged with corruption, arrested by CBI and suspended. Later, CBI engaged a new officer to probe the case.

Land acquisition fire smouldered at wellness hub for years

TNN 24 August 2009, 02:28am IST

KOLKATA: It might seem that bungalows inside Vedic Village the five-star spa resort in Rajarhat were set on fire by an angry mob on the spur of the moment after a football match turned sour. But the sequence of events that led to the clearly points to simmering tension and growing discontent over land acquisition for the resort.

Villagers of the area have had a long-standing grouse against the Vedic Village authorities. Former Trinamool Congress MLA Tanmoy Mandal said many among the mob who damaged houses in the

resort were “victims of land acquisition”. “Many local farmers have complained that they were cheated by the authorities. They were asked to hand over their land to Vedic Village for which they got a very nominal compensation. The promoters, on the other hand, got a 70-acre plot on lease from the government for just Rs 1 crore,” Mandal said.Going by current market rates, a cottah of land in the area sells for anything between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh, depending on how close the plot is to the main road.

Several villagers had earlier complained that they were cheated when they handed over their land for the project. They alleged that they were not given the promised amount. Time and again, they had protested against the project.

The villagers have also been agitating against the proposed IT hub project in Jagadishpur mouza. The project was put on hold after the state government decided not to acquire farmland. According to a section of the locals, the Vedic Village authorities had acquired land without permission over the years. They apparently had sanction to acquire 70 acres and the government had placed a cap on this limit. However, they continued to acquire land and, by 2006, about 150 acres were taken up without permission from either the local panchayat or government authorities, according to a version.

The Vedic Village promoters refuted the allegations. Raj K Modi, managing director of Sanjeevani Projects Private Limited the developers of Vedic Village said they had all the required sanctions.

“All these allegations of illegal land acquisition and extension without government permission are cooked-up stories. The earmarked land was much more than 70 acres from the very beginning. Besides, this incident has no connection with either the Akash Nirman project or with land acquisition for Vedic Village,” he said.

Land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah said there were no irregularities as far as the land purchased from the state government was concerned. “I am not sure if there has been any dispute over the land acquired from local farmers,” said Mollah.

Rajarhat’s CPM MLA Rabin Mandal refused to comment on the previous disputes. “I have no idea about any previous long-standing dispute. This particular incident should not be seen as a fallout of any political controversy. What happened was very unfortunate,” he said.

IT minister Debesh Das said he was not in a position to comment on the matter. However, he said the IT hub project for which Akash Nirman Private Limited was acquiring land was still on. According to IT officials, the company that owns the land already has 400 acres in its possession, while it is yet to buy the remaining 200 acres from farmers.

SCIC to directly hear RTI appeals concerning commission

TNN 24 August 2009, 02:05am IST

LUCKNOW: The RTI complaints and appeals dealing with the State Information Commission and its nodal department — administrative reforms department — will be heard by the state chief information commissioner (SCIC) Ranjeet Singh Pankaj himself. The new SCIC, who was appointed on June 27 this year, has re-allocated the government departments and districts among the 10 information commissioners, including himself.

Not only the information commission but other prominent offices and departments too have been put under the SCIC’s jurisdiction. In fact, there are 21 such offices and departments which are under SCIC’s authority. The appeals and complaints of RTI applicants regarding these 21 offices and departments will be heard by him.

The offices of the governor and chief minister along with the lower and upper houses of state legislature too are in the list. The other offices which figure in the allocation are that of the cabinet secretary, chief secretary and director general of police. Before the new SCIC, these offices and departments were looked after by the acting SCIC Gyanendra Sharma.

The prominent government offices and departments have traditionally been under SCIC’s authority. Prior to Sharma, these offices and departments were under the authority of MA Khan, the then state chief information commissioner.

The new SCIC will hear cases concerning home and related departments, police, appointments and personnel, estate, housing and development, public service commission, medical and health, medical education, environment, vigilance, food and civil supplies, UP freedom fighters welfare corporation and secretariat administration and local administration.

The official order issued by the commission on August 13, also mentions that the SCIC will also take care of all other work which has been allocated to the information commissioners (ICs). The districts too have been allocated among the ICs. The SCIC, under the new order, will hear the matters concerning the districts of Ghaziabad, Hamirpur, Jhansi, Lakhimpur kheri and Mahoba.

The other ICs have got between 7 and 12 departments dealing with urban development, basic and higher education, aviation, industrial development, irrigation, Lokayukta office, bridge corporation, power corporation, finance and secretariat, forest, agriculture, high court and others.

The ICs will also look after the work allocated to them by the SCIC. Further, they will also hear the cases regarding the state directorates of the departments allocated to them. Besides, matters pertaining to the local bodies in the districts allocated to the ICs will be heard by the IC concerned.

Property owners may soon have guaranteed title deeds

Mahendra Kumar Singh, TNN 24 August 2009, 02:23am IST

NEW DELHI: In a move to promote efficient land markets and enhance the capitalisation potential of property, urban development ministry has asked state governments and local bodies to speed up the property title certification system (PTCS) to grant conclusive title guarantee, as part of the reforms agenda under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

In what may revolutionise the land market, the government guaranteed title will ensure easy transfer of property, raise its value and its securitisation. The ambitious plan assumes significance given rampant title frauds and growing number of identity frauds on mortgages that have afflicted the property market.

To start with, the ministry has suggested that city authorities maintain three sets of registers — register of titles, register for disputes and register for charges and covenants — which together would constitute complete record of title of all properties.

In a letter to all chief secretaries, urban development secretary M Ramachandran said, “The objective of reforms is to enable cities to move towards guaranteed title systems. It seeks to create a public record of titles which truly describe the property as well as the title and has a system to reflect any transaction in real time.”

The ministry, which feels that the current revenue records are at best presumptive and do not covey title, has directed city agencies to designate title registration officer, who could be collector or any such other authority.

To fasten the grant of conclusive title guarantees, the ministry wants cities to establish land titling tribunal and land titling appellate tribunal.

“Under JNNURM, all the states have committed to introduce reforms. We want them to expedite the process,” said an official, pointing out that states like Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan were already working on schemes to guarantee land titles.

Under the existing system, property experts said, fragmented land holdings had not been covered by surveys since independence. Also, mutations had piled up and land records had not been updated for decades.

An official pointed out that the present system of recording of rights was only presumptive, meaning the person paying property or revenue tax shown in the land or property record was just presumed to be the owner of the property.

“In case of a dispute, it still requires courts to establish ownership,” said an official. The ministry’s move takes a comprehensive approach to land titling. “It is not merely for better management of land records but we have asked states to make legal changes to end the presumptive character of the record of property rights and grant guaranteed titles to the owners,” the official said.

“Once the titles are determined and guaranteed by the government, it will not be necessary to refer to past records to verify ownership for any future transaction on that property,” he added.

It’s time to make swap organ donation legal

Kounteya Sinha, TNN 24 August 2009, 02:31am IST

NEW DELHI: Dike and Priya were among a lucky few. The Nigerian boy and the Mumbai housewife last week became India’s first patients to successfully undergo a swap liver transplant surgery. Priya’s husband donated 20% of his liver to Dike while the child’s mother donated 50% of her liver to save Priya.

This was because both donors’ blood groups did not match their own recipients’ but were suitable for the other.

Interestingly, swapping is still not officially allowed in India. The team of doctors at Gangaram hospital who conducted the swap did take the approval from an in-house regulatory body before going ahead. “It was the only way to save Dike and Priya. Three members in the committee are from the government,” said a doctor.

The case has once again highlighted the dire need in India to make swap donations legal.

What’s interesting is that India has been planning to launch a national organ transplant programme. The health ministry had finished drafting changes in the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 under which swapping of vital organs between willing but incompatible donors was to become legal.

The current rule restricts organ transplant to between blood relatives (father, mother, son, daughter, wife, husband, sister and brother), near and distant relatives and those having love and affection towards the patient. “The proposal has been lying around with the law ministry for many months now. The faster they clear the file, the earlier we can take it to the Cabinet and then to Parliament. Thousands of people die in India every month due to unavailability of donated organs or lack of a compatible donor within the family,” a health ministry official told TOI.

Swapping will help patients who have relatives willing to donate but are medically incompatible for the recipient.

The amendment also says when the proposed donor or recipient or both are foreigners, the ministry plans to make it mandatory for a senior embassy official of the country of origin to certify the relationship between the donor and the recipient.

The ministry plans to set up Organ Retrieval and Banking Organistions in the four metros and cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Guwahati where these organs will be stored. At present, there is only one national level ORBO at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The ministry also planned sops for live cadaver donors like a 50% discount on second-class rail tickets, lifelong free medical check-up and care in the hospital where organ donation takes place, a customised life insurance policy of Rs 2 lakh for three years with one-time premium to be paid by the recipient in case of a mortality and a preferred status in organ transplantation waiting list if the next-of-kin of a brain-dead donor requires organ transplantation in future.

Blood relations will also not have to pass through a screening authority anymore and undertake several tests. Simple documents like the birth certificate will be enough.

A proposal was also there for post-mortems to be conducted round-the-clock in all government hospitals across India. This will help hospitals harvest healthy vital organs from brain dead patients, for use on others needing it to survive.

At present, most post-mortems are done during the day. This leads to loss of crucial time, which makes most organs unusable.

Contract judges to clear backlog of cases in N-E

IANS 24 August 2009, 02:18am IST

AGARTALA: The Gauhati high court has decided to appoint judges on contract to deal with the huge backlog of pending cases, an official said here Sunday.

“To dispose of thousands of long pending cases, Gauhati HC’s Chief Justice Jasti Chelameswar has approved the appointment of judges on contract for lower courts. So far, six contract judges have been selected for appointment for two-year terms. In legal terms, they are called ‘tenure judges’,” Tripura law secretary Swapan Chandra Das said.

Das said these judges are selected from lawyers who have completed three years’ law practice and are qualified to sit in the judicial service examination.

Judges free to make their assets public: CJI

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 23 August 2009, 03:10am IST

NEW DELHI: Faced with all round criticism of the higher judiciary over its reluctance to make judges assets public, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan says if individual judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court want to make public their assets, they are free to do so.

Reacting to the criticism by a Karnataka HC judge that the CJI’s views on assets was not the view of the overwhelming majority of judges, Justice Balakrishnan said that there was no institutional deterrence against an individual judge going public with his or her assets.

“If an overwhelming majority of the judges in the High Courts and the Supreme Court are willing to declare their assets, what is stopping them? Why are they not doing it? Why is it not publicised?” he asked.

“All judges as individuals are absolutely free to make public their assets,” he said as if meeting the accusation levelled in certain quarters that though the judges are willing, it is the CJI who was stopping them from doing so.

“What I had talked before on the assets issue pertained to the Supreme Court judges, all of whom have diligently declared their assets and investments to me and have updated the list everytime they made fresh investments,” the CJI told TOI in an exclusive interview.

And he and other senior judges appear to be seriously concerned with the damage caused to the judiciary by the perception spread by vested interests that the judges are reluctant to declare their assets.

“None of it. It’s true we are concerned about frivolous litigation. But, we do declare our income and pay tax. It’s all in the records. But, the time has come to seriously think of some way to undo the damage caused to the judiciary because of misinformation,” he said.

“The Supreme Court will consider what we should do regarding the assets to be made public,” Justice Balakrishnan said. However, he asked this reporter: “Are the assets and investments of all government servants and their dependents made public every year?”

He said the SC judges have been scrupulously following the 1997 Resolution adopted at a full court meeting of the Supreme Court, which said, “Every judge should make a declaration of all his/her assets in the form of real estate or investments (held in his/her own name or in the name of his/her spouse or any person dependent on him/her) within a reasonable time of assuming office to the Chief Justice of India, who should also make a similar declaration for the purpose of record.”

Regrettably, many of the HCs do not even follow this voluntary declaration procedure, he said, adding: “The assets declared to the CJI by SC judges are held in confidence and if all the judges decide then it could be placed in a website or in any other mode by which it could be made public.”

“We should seriously think of doing something. We have not done anything wrong so why should we receive so much of rebuke,” the CJI said.

Law panel for 10 years’ imprisonment for death caused by rash driving

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: Expressing serious concern over the increasing number of deaths caused by road accidents due to rash and negligent driving, the Law Commission has recommended 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment for such offences, up from a two-year term provided in the Indian Penal Code.

The Commission, headed by Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, in its 234th report submitted to the government on Saturday, also recommended that causing death by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should be punished with a minimum prison term of two years.

In its report on ‘Legal reforms to combat road accidents,’ the Commission said: “India has one of the largest road networks in the world, of 3.314 million kilometres, consisting of national highways, expressways, State highways, major district roads, other district roads and village roads. More than 1,00,000 Indians are dying every year in road accidents. More than a million are injured or maimed.”

Driving recklessly/dangerously, non-observance of traffic rules, driving without driving licence, driving by untrained/disqualified drivers/minors, driving under the influence of liquor, driving while talking on mobile phone, driving without helmet, ill-health of vehicles and bad road infrastructure are among the causes of accidents, accroding to the report.

The Commission, which took up the issue suo motu in its recommendations, said Section 304 A IPC should be suitably amended to provide for 10 years imprisonment and causing death of any person under the influence of liquor should be punishable with a minimum of sentence of two years and any second or subsequent offence punishable for one year.

For rash driving or riding on a public way in a manner as to endanger human life, the Commission suggested amending Section 279 IPC by introducing Section 279 A and providing for five years’ imprisonment, as against six months at present. Similar under Section 338 IPC for causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others, the Commission suggested five-year imprisonment as against two years at present and for reckless driving under Section 184 IPC, the Commission has recommended a punishment of five years.

“Install CCTV cameras”

The Commission asked the Centre to enact a comprehensive legislation on road traffic law to regulate all kinds of traffic. “As an important part of the enforcement measures, there should be compulsorily installed CCTV cameras at all vulnerable points, to be determined by an expert committee to curb traffic violations.”

Further all motor vehicles should be fitted with irremovable or tamperproof speed governors to regulate speed, the report said.

Law must be dynamic to fight terror: Moily

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Pointing out that the “exact frontiers” of terrorism are still unknown, Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily on Saturday said law should be dynamic to meet the growing challenge posed by terror networks and outfits across the world.

“It is a scenario of worrying future because terrorism attacks democratic institutions, human rights and innocent people. Vigilance by jurists and dynamism by lawmakers should be wedded in the process of law-making to deal with the menace.”

Mr. Moily was speaking at a conference on the “Constitution and Anti-Terror Laws,” organised jointly here by the Rashtriya Jagriti Sansthan, South Asia Politics and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a German organisation.

Describing terrorism as “an undeclared war” on humanity, Mr. Moily said ordinary law and encounters were not the answer to delay in delivery of justice.

Referring to the constitutional protection vis-a-vis anti-terror laws, the Minister said encounter was not an answer, though some thought it was due to the delays in the criminal justice system.

“Unless the criminal justice system is totally overhauled, which we would like to do in the future, it is necessary to build not only capacity of law enforcers, but also the judiciary. There has to be an all-out war on the root, trunk and branches of terrorism.”

Setting up of NIA

Realising the need for a federal agency to probe terror-related crimes, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was created recently. “Looking into the inter-State and international nature of terrorism, the need was felt to create the NIA and it is important to have a federal law, which is quite possible. I have recommended it in the Administrative Reforms Commission [ARC] report,” Mr. Moily said.

Terrorist acts were aimed at destabilising nations and citizens. “It is an attack on our institutions of democracy, symbols of national pride, security and strategic infrastructure and on civilians. Terrorism is a reminder for the global community to stop the rhetoric and perform to effectively fight the menace.”

The Minister said terrorism posed a new challenge to law enforcers and lawmakers alike, and new approaches, techniques, weapons, expertise and laws were required to fight it. “The lawmakers and enforcers need to change their mindset and will have to attune themselves to these new challenges posed by terror.”

Thorat apologises for violating Wildlife Act

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Balasaheb Thorat on Saturday apologised for violating the Wildlife Protection Act by entering the cage of a tiger cub at Nagpur. “I met the Union Environment Minister and explained my side,” Mr. Thorat said.

CJI constitutes committee of judges to simplify laws

J. Venkatesan

It will identify subjects for preparation of Restatements of Law

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has constituted a Committee of Judges to bring out an authoritative series of ‘Restatements of Law’ on about 100 topics to remove ambiguities surrounding the legal principles and their applicability; clarification and simplification of laws for their better adaptation to social needs.

In the first stage the committee will identify the subjects suitable for preparation of Restatements of Law (RoL). It is proposed to have two parallel projects — long-term and short-term, having regard to the nature of topic, current relevance and need for re-statement.

The objective of the project undertaken in association with the Indian Law Institute is to identify uncertainties in law in basic legal subjects; extensive examination and analysis of legal areas requiring reform and statement of current law of the land by considering both statutory provisions and judicial interpretations.

The committee, comprising a few Supreme Court and High Court judges, eminent jurists, academicians, and scholars, has initially embarked upon a pilot project (to create standards as models) in three areas: legislative privileges, contempt of court and public interest litigation. The other short-term subjects are: corrupt practices in elections; treaty-making power of the state; preventive detention and adoption.

The long-term projects would be in administrative law; arbitration; partnership; succession; damages and compensation; interpretation of statutes and deeds and consumer protection. There will be periodical addition of subjects, revisions and updates of existing re-instatements.

Reinstatements unlike text books and treaties are not opinion-based; they are authoritative pronouncements of the law on a subject at a particular time exploring principles, interpretations, practices and impact. It avoids ambiguities and complexities as far as practicable by simple language, illustrations, comparative insights and incisive probes on fundamentals. They can be selective on issues and topics and need not be comprehensive on all aspects of a given theme.

The CJI is of the view that an authoritative series of RoL will be of enormous help to lawyers, judges, academicians, civil servants and general public as it is formulated with extensive inputs from various sources. When properly drafted RoL would reflect the consensus of the legal community as to what the law is and what it should become.

RoL on a subject will also restrict the practice of citing a string of old cases, every time a principle had to be stated.

For the three areas already selected, the committee will invite academicians, lawyers, judges and other scholars to act as authors, editors, advisers/consultants. They will prepare a draft report in each topic by the end of December this year. It will be considered by a sub-committee and after revision, wherever necessary, will be published by the ILI in a month’s time inviting comments, debate and discussions from the legal world.

Thereafter the relevant suggestions and comments received from the public would be placed before a full committee of judges for incorporating them in the draft report and the final report is expected to be published as a book before the retirement of Mr. Balakrishnan in May 2010.

Prosecute all culprits in J&K torture case: ACHR

J. Balaji

NEW DELHI: The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has urged the National Human Rights Commission to prosecute all the culprits in the Jammu & Kashmir police torture case of 2003 in which a rickshaw puller, Mohan Lal, of Amritsar was tortured to death.

Welcoming the award of Rs. 5 lakh compensation ordered by the Commission to the poor man’s family, ACHR director Subhas Chakma, who took up the matter first with the Commission, said it should also direct the Punjab government to inform it about the investigation of FIR No.228/2003 registered with the Sadar police station in Amritsar pertaining to the death of Mohan Lal and the follow-up action on the prosecution of all the culprits including those who fudged the first post-mortem report in Jammu.

“The Commission should put an end to the menace of torture in India,” he said.

While the first port-mortem report said Mohan Lal’s body had 16 external injuries and the cause of death was “septicaemia,” a magisterial enquiry conducted by the Tehsildar (Settlement) concluded that Mohan Lal had died due to a blood infection and there was no foul play in his death. However, a second post-mortem conducted by a medical board at the Amritsar Medical College revealed 41 injuries including incised wounds, blisters and also six marks of injuries caused by passing electric current. The blisters and electric current marks which were observed in the second post-mortem were not mentioned in the first post-mortem report.

NCTE decision can’t be overruled: High Court

Special Correspondent

‘Not an absolute fundamental right of colleges to run institutions’

‘Mere creation of infrastructure did not guarantee recognition’

‘Policy decision not to grant recognitions aims at achieving the objectives of the NCTE Act’

JAIPUR: In a landmark judgment, the Rajasthan High Court has held that the policy decision of the National Council for Teachers’ Education (NCTE) to control “mushroom growth” of teachers’ training colleges in the country cannot be put to judicial review even if the colleges have created a huge infrastructure and employed a big staff.

Disposing of a bunch of more than 100 writ petitions moved by private colleges running teachers’ training courses such as B.Ed. and B.S.T.C., Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari said the NCTE was entitled to refuse recognition to them for running the courses for the academic year 2009-10 under its policy decision to check the increase in the number of such institutions.

The Court, in its verdict delivered at the Jaipur Bench here over the weekend, took a serious note of the fact that in Rajasthan alone the number of trained teachers coming out of these colleges was around 1.20 lakh every year against the number of jobs limited to 20,000 a year.

The State Government submitted before the Court that there were only 5,593 vacancies for trained teachers during 2008-09, while about 4 lakh candidates applied for them.

About 110 colleges in the State were denied recognition with the intention to regulate the availability of jobs vis-À-vis the number of eligible trained candidates.

The Court was also informed that the NCTE was conducting a national survey in which many of the recognised institutions had been de-recognised for various reasons.

Counsels for the petitioner colleges contended that they had put in huge amounts for creating infrastructure and employing the staff, but they were denied recognition for 2008-09 and a lot many might have been deprived in 2009-10.

College inspection

The NCTE took applications from all the colleges and also inspected their sites and facilities.

Looking to the fact that the NCTE has taken a decision to regulate the number of colleges running in each State, Mr. Justice Bhandari observed that the NCTE had decided not to grant recognitions to achieve the objectives of the NCTE Act, 1993: “The requirements of manpower and other aspects are said to be under survey. The information supplied by the State Government, taken as an input to decide the issue as to whether the institutions should be given recognition or not, is correct.”

“Since it is a decision in respect of all institutions in the country, the policy decision of the NCTE cannot be held to be overruled by the Court in a casual manner,” ruled the High Court.

The Judge also observed that it was not an absolute fundamental right of colleges to run the institutions, subject as it was to reasonable restrictions.

Holding that the national council had met all requirements of reasonableness, the Court said the institutions were fully aware that the mere creation of infrastructure did not guarantee recognition.

The Court clarified that the colleges which had removed deficiencies indicated to them alone had been given recognition for 2008-09 and this act could not be claimed to be arbitrary.

NCTE decision cannot be overruled: Rajasthan court

Special Correspondent

Plea filed by colleges running teachers’ training courses

JAIPUR: In a landmark judgment, the Rajasthan High Court has held that the policy decision of the National Council for Teachers’ Education (NCTE) to control “mushroom growth” of teachers’ training colleges in the country cannot be put to judicial review even if the colleges have created a huge infrastructure and employed a big staff.

Disposing of a bunch of more than 100 writ petitions moved by private colleges running teachers’ training courses such as B. Ed. and B.S.T.C., Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari said the NCTE was entitled to refuse recognition to them for running the courses for the academic year 2009-10 under its policy decision to check the increase in the number of such institutions.

Serious view

The Court, in its verdict delivered at the Jaipur Bench here over the weekend, took a serious note of the fact that in Rajasthan alone the number of trained teachers coming out of these colleges was around 1.20 lakh every year against the number of jobs limited to 20,000 a year.

The State government submitted before the Court that there were only 5,593 vacancies for trained teachers during 2008-09, while about 4 lakh candidates applied for them. About 110 colleges in the State were denied recognition with the intention to regulate the availability of jobs vis-À-vis the number of eligible trained candidates.

National survey

The Court was also informed that the NCTE was conducting a national survey in which many of the recognised institutions had been de-recognised for various reasons.

Counsels for the petitioner colleges contended that they had put in huge amounts for creating infrastructure and employing the staff, but they were denied recognition for 2008-09 and a lot many might have been deprived in 2009-10.

The NCTE took applications from all the colleges and also inspected their sites and facilities.

Looking to the fact that the NCTE has taken a decision to regulate the number of colleges running in each State, Mr. Justice Bhandari observed that the NCTE had decided not to grant recognitions to achieve the objectives of the NCTE Act, 1993.

“The requirements of manpower and other aspects are said to be under survey. The information supplied by the State government, taken as an input to decide the issue as to whether the institutions should be given recognition or not, is correct.”

“Since it is a decision in respect of all institutions in the country, the policy decision of the NCTE cannot be held to be overruled by the Court in a casual manner,” ruled the Court.

“Not absolute right”

The Judge also observed that it was not an absolute fundamental right of colleges to run the institutions, subject as it was to reasonable restrictions.

Life term for one in Syed Modi murder case

Atiq Khan

Second accused acquitted

LUCKNOW: The prime accused in the Syed Modi murder case, Bhagwati Singh, was on Saturday sentenced to life imprisonment by Additional Sessions Judge of Lucknow Shashank Shekhar, 21 years after the badminton player was shot dead at the rear gate of the K.D. Singh “Babu” stadium here.

The 27-year-old eight-time national badminton champion was killed on July 28, 1988 when he was riding home on his scooter from practice. The killers, who were waiting for him, sped towards Rae Bareli in a Maruti van after executing the crime.

Bhagwati Singh was held guilty on two counts under Section 302 (murder) and Section 27 (possession of illegal arms) of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The prime accused had been convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge on Friday and the quantum of punishment was pronounced on Saturday. The second accused, Jitendra Singh, was cleared of the charges for want of evidence.

The murder sent shock waves in sporting circles. The case soon assumed political overtones after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charge sheeted Jan Morcha leader Sanjay Singh and Modi’s wife Amita on grounds of conspiracy.

Mr. Sanjay Singh, who was a senior Minister in the Uttar Pradesh government headed by the then Chief Minister, Bir Bahadur Singh, left the Congress and joined the former Prime Minister V.P. Singh. The CBI probe was recommended by Mr. Bir Bahadur Singh in August 1988, even as the local police investigating the case claimed to have zeroed in on the killers. The investigating agency stepped in only in September 1988.

Apart from Mr. Sanjay Singh and Ms. Modi, the CBI charge sheet also named Akhilesh Kumar Singh, sitting MLA from Rae Bareli Sadar, Amar Bahadur Singh, Bhagwati Singh, Jitendra Singh and Balai Singh.

The CBI alleged that the contract to kill Modi was given to Akhilesh Singh by Mr. Sanjay Singh. The CBI cited an alleged affair between Mr. Sanjay Singh and Ms. Modi as the cause for giving the alleged killing contract.

While the CBI was accused of moving on a political trail, Mr. Sanjay Singh and Ms. Modi were discharged in 1990 by a trial court, a year after the CBI filed the charge sheet. Mr. Sanjay Singh and Ms. Modi later married.

Charges against Mr. Akhilesh Singh were also dropped. While Amar Bahadur Singh was murdered, Balai Singh died during the course of the trial. Jitendra Singh has been cleared of the charges.

Mayawati statues to fulfil Kanshi Ram’s wishes: U.P.

Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Uttar Pradesh government has justified in the Supreme Court the installation of statues of Chief Minister Mayawati and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Kanshi Ram at various places, contending that a budgetary allocation had been made for this purpose. In its affidavit in response to a public interest litigation petition alleging that crores of public money were being spent for her personal glorification, the government said it was wrong to suggest that only statues of dead persons could be erected.

The petition sought a direction to restrain the government from installing statues of Ms. Mayawati and elephants (BSP symbol) with public money and demanded a CBI probe into the alleged misuse of state funds.

The affidavit said the statues of living personalities such as film star Amitabh Bachchan and the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had been erected. There was no dearth of statues of living persons, whether in the country or abroad. “Abroad we have wax statues of film stars, cricketers and other living personalities finding a place in Madame Tussauds,” a wax museum in London. The affidavit said Ms. Mayawati’s statues were erected to fulfil the wishes of Kanshi Ram, who willed that wherever his statues were put up, the statues of Ms. Mayawati, “his only heir, must also be installed.”

It said a budgetary allocation of Rs. 294 crore and Rs. 203 crore had been made for works in parks in Lucknow and Noida, where the statues were being installed. “Money has been sanctioned by the State government through a budgetary allocation approved by the Assembly; every expenditure was authorised by the State legislature. The Department of Culture made provisions for Rs.194.2 crore in 2008-09 and Rs. 100 crore in 2009-10.”

Denying that a stupa was being built at a cost of Rs.500 crore, the State said: “It was a wrong notion that the stupa, being built with other statues, will cost Rs. 500 crore. The cost of the stupa is Rs. 203 crore, and not Rs. 500 crore as stated in newspaper reports.” The State said: “The judiciary must exercise self-restraint and eschew the temptation to encroach upon the domain of the legislature or the administrative or statutory authorities,” and sought the dismissal of the petition.

3 convicted in anti-Sikh riots case

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Saturday convicted three persons for attempting to murder members of a Sikh family during the 1984 riots. Additional Sessions Judge held Mangal Sen, Brij Mohan Verma and Bhagat Singh guilty of attempt to murder, rioting and dacoity in Shastri Nagar in north Delhi. While deciding the case, the judge made a strong indictment of the manner in which the Delhi police and the state machinery had acted during the riots.

The anti-riots cell of the Delhi police had probed the incident in which Joginder Singh and his two sons were seriously injured, while their house was burned down by a mob led by the convicts on November 1, 1984. — PTI

PIL plea against additional entrance for temple in Srirangam dismissed

Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here has dismissed a public interest litigation petition filed against the construction of an additional entrance by demolishing a wall near the Maha Dwaram (main entrance) to the Goddess Renganayaki Sannidhi at the Sri Aranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam.

A Division Bench of Justice Chitra Venkataraman and Justice M. Duraiswamy said that petitioner N. Mohanram, a devotee, had not placed any material either from Agama Sastras (ancient procedures on temple management) or otherwise, which would stand in the way of providing the additional entrance or widening the existing entrance.

The court said that they did not find anything wrong in providing an additional entrance or widening the existing entrance from four to six feet. This was being done after obtaining expert opinion, to ease congestion caused by the narrow passage, especially during festive occasions.

The Bench pointed out that M. Muthiah stapathi, temple architect, who is the president of the Stapathi Advisory Committee of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, had inspected the temple on March 20 and gave the opinion that the existing entrance could be widened and an additional entrance provided in the second ring of the compound wall.

Writing the judgment, Ms. Justice Venkataraman said that the officials had rightly gone ahead with the work after taking the assistance of the stapathi. It was not as though they had embarked on widening and providing an additional entrance as a fanciful exercise.

Stating that the temple officials had proceeded in the right direction to provide better facilities for devotees who throng the temple in large numbers, the judge said any remedial measure taken in the interest of the devotees and for facilitating easy flow of huge gatherings on festival days needed to be appreciated.

Earlier, petitioner’s counsel argued that the temple authorities had an obligation to maintain the properties of religious institutions in their pristine character. Architectural, sculptural and archaeological features of every structure in the temple should be maintained with utmost care.

The Bench said that it did not agree with his submissions based on Management and Preservation of Properties of Religious Institutions Rules.

Court grants anticipatory bail for two, including advocate

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Friday granted anticipatory bail for two persons, including an advocate, in a case registered against them by the Ammapet police station in Salem district.

In their petition, Rajmohan, the advocate, and his relative Ramalingam, both of Salem, stated that on August 14 when the lawyer’s six-year-old son was returning from tuition, six persons kidnapped him. When the petitioners went to the scene of the abduction, members of the public caught hold of the alleged kidnappers and attacked them. Mr. Rajmohan preferred a police complaint.

Based on a complaint from Ashokan, the police registered a case in which the petitioners apprehended arrest.

Petitioners’ counsel S. Prabakaran submitted that the petitioners were victims, but had been falsely implicated by the complainant with a view to escaping from the clutches of law.

Justice K.N. Basha said it was a very unfortunate case wherein a practising advocate along with his relative had been implicated in a case for the alleged offence under Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 307 (attempt to murder) Indian Penal Code on the admitted case of the prosecution that when the de facto complainant attempted to kidnap the son of the advocate, the petitioners intervened and, at that time, the incident is said to have taken place.

It was curious to note that in the FIR and the statement recorded by police, Mr. Ashokan had categorically stated that he had conspired along with his brother and others to kidnap the boy.

Mr. Justice Basha said in the event of their arrest, the petitioners should be released on bail on their executing a bond for Rs.10,000 with one surety.

They should also appear before the police concerned for interrogation as and when required.

Legal literacy

Avinashilingam University for Women is organising a short term course on ‘Legal Literacy’ for tribal women from August 24 to 29.

For details, call 0422-2433408.

Grasp spirit of anti-ragging laws, students told

Staff Reporter

‘Ignorance of the laws is no excuse’

VIJAYAWADA: Anti-ragging laws, which came into effect following instructions from the Supreme Court, are made to be stringent and severe to the extent of disqualifying a guilty student from pursuing his studies forever.

It is there in the law that once a student if found guilty of a severe form of ragging, the authorities concerned can write down in his or her all available certificates about the offence committed.

The attestation of the fact that one has violated anti-ragging law will serve to permanently close a student’s study prospects, not to talk of their future careers.

“So, students should be very careful in this. Do not hurt anybody.

Ignorance of law is no excuse from punishment and the courts will not accept such defence,” said P.V. Ramana Rayalu, Principal Senior Civil Judge, Vijayawada. He appealed to the students to understand the spirit of and abide by the Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutions Act, 1997.

Students cautioned

Mr. Rayalu delivered the keynote address at an awareness meeting on the Prohibition of Ragging Act organised on the premises of the VR Siddhartha Engineering College at Kanuru on the outskirts of the city on Saturday. He cautioned the students against taking a casual stance of the anti-ragging law, saying that those violating the act would get caught ultimately to face the consequences. He explained to the students that every citizen, young and old, was supposed to be well-versed with the laws that were being made to protect the best interests of our society. These days, a lot of publicity was being given about the evil of ragging and the punishments that would be passed on to the guilty students based on the severity of their offences.

Mr. Rayalu explained to the students that being judges, they would not usually come out in the midst of the public nor would they allow any outside interaction, but the necessity arose considering the need for creating more awareness among the people about their laws and rights.

In notice boards and hoardings, the VR SEC authorities put on display information about the nature of ragging and the consequent punishments.

The imprisonments ranged from six months to 10 years while the fines could be slapped from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 50,000.

Schools’ closure: State likely to move court

Special Correspondent

‘Future of 2 lakh children, 30,000 teachers is in jeopardy’

VISAKHAPATNAM: The State government is likely to move court seeking modification of its order directing closure of private schools which did not conform to norms in the wake of its inability to relocate students. The parents will join hands with it to protect their children’s education in the current academic year.

Expressing this view and endorsing it fully, MLC M.V.S. Sarma told mediapersons here on Saturday that as many as 530 schools in Visakhapatnam were asked to close for their failure to obtain recognition or register the schools, which meant the future of two lakh children and about 30,000 staff was in jeopardy. Though the High Court wanted an alternative to be provided, it would be difficult to relocate the children in the current academic year, he pointed out.

“Nobody questions the corporate educational institutions whether they are complying with the norms and providing basic facilities despite collecting heavy fee. But small educational institutions which cater to the poor and middle class children are pulled up. These small schools are, in fact, run by self-employed youth groups which charge reasonable fee since most of the children cannot afford to join corporate schools nor are there enough government schools to accommodate them,” he stated.

Mr. Sarma said that practically no school would be able to provide playground and other facilities prescribed by the authorities. The issue would also come up for discussion in the Legislative Council shortly, he said.

Railway zone

On the demand of creating a separate railway zone for Visakhapatnam, he said though all the MPs made it a pre-poll promise, it was a pity that only one MP attended the recent meeting addressed by the Union Minister of State for Railways.

“Neither the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Visakhapatnam MP D. Purandeswari, nor Rajya Sabha member T. Subbarami Reddy, who had time and again promised to take up the issue, attended. Even other MPs from north Andhra also abstained. There is need to launch a people’s movement for achieving separate railway zone for Vizag,” he opined.

Buyer can cancel deal if builder delays project: consumer court

Staff Reporter

‘The company cannot retain any portion of the booking amount’

BANGALORE: The developer is duty-bound to return the amount paid by buyer when there is delay in execution of the housing project and the buyer is well within his rights to cancel the agreement with the developer when he sees no progress in the project.

This was observed by the 3rd Additional Bangalore District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in the two cases against Ittina Properties Limited.


“It’s the failure of the company to materialise with the project that has compelled the complainants to move for cancellation of the agreements of sale,” the forum observed.

It further said the company was not in a position to sell and deliver the possession of flats in the near future.

“Therefore in the fitness of things, the company should have refunded the amount paid by the complainants at the time of booking,” the forum said.

This observation has been made in the complaints filed by Nilanjan Chakraborti and Dharmesh S. Rao. Mr. Chakraborti and Mr. Rao wanted to buy flats in the proposed Ittina Arni apartments of the Ittina Properties coming up in Hoodi village in K.R. Puram.

The two paid Rs. 2.66 lakh and Rs. 2.92 lakh of the total sale consideration of Rs. 26.6 lakh and Rs. 29.19 lakh for booking the flats.


The two signed agreements of sale with the company in January 2007.

On its part, the company had agreed to deliver possession of the flats on or before October 2007. Mr. Chakraborti and Mr. Rao had agreed to pay the remaining amount in equitable instalments.


When they did not see any material progress in the project, they stopped paying any further amount to the company and sought cancellation of the sale and demanded refund of the booking amount. When the company refused, the two approached the forum.

The company contended before the forum that it could not complete the project as the State Government’s “Akrama/Sakrama” scheme came in the way. The company also said that disputes had arisen between the landowners and private parties over the title of land on which the apartments were to come up.

The company said that as complainants had voluntarily terminated the agreements and it could refund by deducting 30 per cent of booking amount.

‘No justification’

In the order on August 14, the forum members Subhashini, H.M. Shivalingappa and Srivathasa Kelilaya said that there was no justification by the company to retain any portion of the booking amount.

They directed the company to refund Rs. 2.66 lakh and Rs. 2.92 lakh respectively with 18 per cent interest from January 20, 2007.

They have also asked the company to pay Rs. 10,000 each to the two complainants and to comply with the order within 30 days.

Judge orders status quo in land case

Staff Correspondent

Agriculturist accused

of land encroachment

Record of rights examined, objections awaited

HASSAN: Civil Judge Junior Division (Sakleshpur) Moinuddin has directed the parties in a land encroachment case to maintain status quo till the defendants file objections to the interim application.

The case relates to alleged encroachment of forest land by agriculturist U.P. Verghese (plaintiff) in Aluvalli village of Sakleshpur taluk, as claimed by village residents who are the defendants.

The judge said, “I have verified the schedule of the plaint and the record of rights (RoR) produced by the plaintiff. At this stage, in the interest of justice, it is necessary to direct both parties to maintain status quo with regard to the suit schedule properties.” The orders were passed on August 20 while counsel for the plaintiff obtained a copy of the order the next day.

The residents of Aluvalli staged a dharna in front of the Assistant Commissioner’s office in July demanding action against Mr. Verghese for allegedly encroaching upon more than 150 acres of forest and revenue land in a bid to set up a rubber plantation. They also alleged that since the land fell in the Western Ghats, it might affect the ecosystem. The Malnad Janapara Horata Samiti has rendered support to the residents’ protest.

N.S. Gopal, counsel for Mr. Verghese, here on Saturday said his client was a resident of Aluvalli village. The 24.17 acres of land under survey number 24, which was also alleged to have been encroached upon, had actually been in Mr. Verghese’s possession for the past 30 years. He said his client grew coffee, rubber, arecanut and cardamom on the property.

He claimed the “encroached area” was not forest land and that it had been fenced to prevent wild elephants from trespassing. He said the defendants, K.P. Jagadish and 16 others were trying to damage the crops hence the request for injunction orders. Mr. Gopal said the case had been posted for hearing on Monday.

CAT chief should be sitting or former Chief Justice’

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: The Law Commission has recommended that the Centre amend the Administrative Tribunals Act to provide for appointment of only a sitting or retired Chief Justice of a High Court as Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal.

In its latest report to the government, the Commission, headed by Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, said though a former or sitting judge of a High Court was eligible, the Supreme Court always recommended a former or sitting Chief Justice, given the importance of the post and the nationwide jurisdiction of the tribunal and also because highly complicated service disputes were to be adjudicated.

The first seven Chairmen were Chief Justices of High Courts.

For a short duration from 2002 to 2007, the post was held by former High Court judges.

‘No good results’

“It appears that this experiment, to say the least, did not yield good results. Realising the importance of the post and the nature of work transacted in the Tribunal, the Chief Justice of India, in the beginning of 2007, passed an order that only a sitting or former Chief Justice of High Court would be Chairman.”

However, under Section 6 (1) of the Administrative Tribunals (second amendment) Act, “a person shall be qualified for appointment as Chairman unless he is or has been a judge of a High Court: provided that a person appointed Vice-Chairman before the commencement of this Act shall be qualified for appointment as Chairman if such a person has held the office of Vice-Chairman at least for two years.”

The report said: “There is therefore an urgent need to amend Section 6 regarding the eligibility for the post of Chairman, who invariably needs to be a sitting or former Chief Justice of a High Court.”

Court order to Delhi varsity on professor’s petition

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has given one last opportunity to the Delhi University to file a reply to a petition filed by an associate professor of the Jesus and Mary College here challenging rejection of her application for appointment as professor in the Department of Political Science.

Justice Siddharth Mridul issued the ultimatum when the University failed to file a reply for the second time. The Court has now asked the University to file the reply by November 5, the next date of hearing.

The petitioner, Sushila Ramaswamy, moved the Court in January this year.

In her petition, Ms. Ramawamy, through her counsel Deepak Bhattacharyya, submitted that the University had rejected her application for appointment to the post on the ground that she did not fulfil the criterion for having the experience of ten years of teaching at the university level. Challenging the University’s charge, the petitioner submitted that she fulfilled the criterion.

Court summons BSP MLA in rape case

Badaun (UP): A local court here has summoned BSP MLA Yogendra Sagar and two others accused of raping a girl, holding them “prima facie” guilty, after it rejected a CB-CID report giving a clean chit to the legislator in the case.

Additional Judicial Magistrate Rajvir Singh directed Mr. Sagar, MLA from Bilsi, his relative Tejendra Sagar and Neeraj Sharma to appear before him on the next date of hearing on September 18.

Absconders can file appeal: HC

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The right of a person to assail the trial court judgment by way of an appeal cannot be taken away, even if he is an absconder, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled. The ruling came in connection with an application filed by Manmohan Lal seeking the dismissal of an appeal filed by his son-in-law Vikram as he had escaped from the custody and was absconding.

Lal had contended that his son-in-law was sentenced to life imprisonment for causing “gunshot injuries” to him and his family after barging into their house in Ferozepur district. An FIR for attempt to murder and other offences was registered on June 4, 2007, he added.

But on February 25, Vikram escaped from the police custody before he could be produced in a court in Sirsa the next day.

Taking up the application, the Bench of Justice KS Garewal and Justice Nawab Singh ruled: “We fail to understand how an appellant court can dismiss an appeal without hearing the appellant or his pleader simply on the ground that the appellant is absconding.”

Referring to the legal provisions, the Bench asserted the appellant court, after perusing the record and hearing the appellant or his pleader, might, if it considered that there was no sufficient ground for interference, dismiss the appeal or pass any other order. But it could not be dismissed without being heard.

The Bench added: “If Virkam is alive, he has the right to argue that he is innocent and seek relief. Simply because he is absconding, his right cannot be taken away. As it has been brought to our notice that Vikram is in fact absconding and appears to have escaped custody, the state of Punjab is directed to step up its efforts to apprehend Vikram and proceed against him in accordance with the law.”

For taking the matter to a logical conclusion, the Bench added: Ferozepur Senior Superintendent of Police shall personally supervise the case.

Gujjar body moves court against mobile companies

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 23
The Gujjars, through Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, have filed a case in a consumer court against eight cellular mobile companies. The firms have been accused of “consumer fraud, false advertising and deceptive trade practices by misrepresenting Gojri” – native language of Gujjars, a spokesperson for the foundation said here today. The mobile companies are BSNL, Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, Reliance, Idea, Spice and Tata Indicom.

The spokesperson said the “ignorance and neglect” of Gojri language by these companies has compelled the body for initiating legal proceedings against them. This was stated by Javaid Rahi, national secretary of the foundation. The other reason, he said, was the almost defunct services provided by them. “One third of the consumers are Gojri speaking, but they have been ignored in providing quality service and computerised answers in Gojri.” In Jammu and Kashmir, the cellular mobile companies are providing services and ring tones in regional languages like Kashmiri, Dogri and Ladakhi while Gojri is being ignored.

HC asks NHPC to stop work at project site

Legal Correspondent

Shimla, August 23
The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to stop construction work at the Parbati Stage-II site (Kullu) till further orders.

While passing this interim order, the court observed that visual impression of the photographs annexed with the petition showed that debris had been thrown in the Parbati river without proper precautions.

The court observed it was necessary for the NHPC to ensure that there was no degradation of environment and ecology in and around the project area.

The court added that the petitioner had also made various representations to the state authorities, including the Chief Minister, for stopping haphazard work undertaken by the NHPC.

In view of this, the petitioner had made out a prima facie case for suspension of construction activities undertaken by the NHPC. Consequently, the court directed stopping of construction activities being carried out by the NHPC.

The court also issued notice to the secretary MPP, HPSEB, Him Urja, NHPC and Pollution Control Board (PCB) and directed them to file reply within four weeks.

This order came on a petition filed by Narender Sharma of Manikaran and Rajesh Sharma Barisaini of Kullu district.

They alleged that the NHPC was constructing head raise tunnel (HRT) at Jagrain nullah Barsaini in Kullu district.

The NHPC had not identified any dumping site and was throwing debris in the Parbati river. The petitioner alleged that it had caused huge damage to the river and the trees around the area.

The petitioner mentioned that the PCB had also issued notice to the NHPC for its illegal activities to stop construction but the same was not adhered to by the NHPC.

They urged the court to direct the respondent to stop the unscientific dumping of the debris in the Parbati river.

Assets of judges
Public disclosure would be right

Karnataka High Court Judge Justice D.V. Shylendra Kumar deserves to be commended for having stressed the need for judges to disclose their assets in national interest. Significantly, his views are at variance with those of the Chief Justice of India, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, who had taken the position that throwing open the information to the public may lead to harassment of judges. Justifiably, Justice Shylendra Kumar has supported disclosure from the standpoint of the people’s fundamental right to know under Article 19 (i) (a) of the Constitution as also under the Right to Information Act. Interestingly, Justice Kumar dispels the CJI’s apprehensions of the judges’ “safety and security” in the event of their disclosing the assets and avers that the rule of law should operate “uniformly” — something which the Supreme Court itself had maintained in various judicial pronouncements over the years. The Tribune, too, has been commenting in these columns that judges, being constitutional functionaries, should not claim any immunity from the rule of law in the interest of transparency and accountability.

Though the Centre has deferred the introduction of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill, 2009, in the recent session of Parliament, one cannot but recall the controversial Clause VI of this Bill which required judges to declare their assets to their superiors but spared them from being made public. Had the Bill been passed, it would have served little public interest. No wonder, many members had opposed it.

The need for asset disclosure has become far greater today because of the increasing cases of corruption involving the members of the judiciary. There is also a growing public perception that there is lack of accountability and transparency in the judiciary. Moreover, when most judges are known to be just and impartial, command people’s respect and have nothing to hide, they should not be reluctant to disclose their assets. Instead, they should come forward and support the cause of transparency as Justice Shylendra Kumar has done.

LEGAL NEWS 21-23.08.2009

Why was Syed Modi killed? The whodunit remains unsolved (News Analysis)

Sharat Pradhan

August 23rd, 2009

LUCKNOW – Bhagwati Singh may have been sentenced to life for murdering badminton champion Syed Modi 21 years ago, but the million dollar question remains unanswered – why was the ace sportsman killed and who got Bhagwati to pump four bullets into his chest on the night of July 28, 1988?

The sensational murder continued to hit the headlines for months because it had all the ingredients of a Bollywood masala movie – love, passion, money and crime surrounding the death of a sporting hero.

The role of Modi’s wife Amita Kulkarni, then herself a name in Indian badminton, her alleged affair with then Uttar Pradesh sports minister Sanjay Singh and his close nexus with Rae Bareli outlaw-turned-politician Akhilesh Singh, as also some revealing infamous letters written by Amita’s mother to her, added more spice to the story each day.

Their connections with Subrata Roy, head of then up and coming Sahara Chit Funds, also aroused a lot of media interest.

CBI charge-sheets against Sanjay Singh, Amita and Akhilesh for “masterminding” and “conspiring” the murder were knocked off in the prolonged court battle that was fought right up to the apex court by renowned lawyer Ram Jethmalani and his daughter Rani.

The only ordeal that Amita and Sanjay had to go through was a brief stint behind bars but eventually they got a clean chit from the High Court as well as the Supreme Court. Both were now happily married and into politics- Sanjay was Congress MP from Sultanpur and Amita the party legislator from Amethi.

Sanjay and Amita’s reprieve came in handy for Akhilesh to get relief on the plea that his co-accused were acquitted, leaving the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) high and dry.

Of the two other accused, both Balai Singh and Amar Bahadur Singh were shot dead in mysterious circumstances shortly after being released on bail. Both belonged to Rae Bareli, the hometown of Akhilesh Singh.

Yet another accused Jitendra Singh got the “benefit of doubt” to be set free. He was accused of driving the vehicle from which the shooters – Bhagwati and Amar Bahadur – had fired the shots, while Modi was coming out of the local badminton stadium on the fateful night 21 years ago.

“The affluent and the influential literally got away with murder and poor Bhagwati Singh has been nailed,” lamented the convict’s relative accompanying him Saturday when Lucknow Additional District and Sessions judge Sheshank Shekhar ordered Bhagwati to be sentenced to a life term together with a fine of Rs.50,000.

The judge turned down CBI’s argument for a death sentence to Bhagwati, who pleaded for a “milder” treatment on the plea that he was the sole bread-winner of the family and had two young daughters to marry off.

Even the court failed to establish Bhagwati’s motive behind the murder. Sure enough, he proposes to move the High Court against the trial court’s verdict and is quite hopeful of “getting justice”.

But how many decades would the new court battle take to answer the question, which would unravel ‘who’ was behind the Indian badminton star’s murder, could be anybody’s guess.

Mashelkar Committee on Patents and Prof Correa: Court(quote)ing a New Controversy?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A very curious article popped up in the Business Standard (BS) yesterday. Apparently, Prof Carlos Correa is miffed that the Technical Expert Group (TEG, headed by Dr Mashelkar) has misquoted him. I’ve combed through Correa’s article and the revised report by the Masehelkar Committee and can’t exactly fathom as to how Correa claims to have been misquoted. The record would suggest that the expert committee rightly (and contextually) cited Prof Correa.
This is what the BS stated:

“Patent expert says his views were ‘misinterpreted’ to support conclusion that India’s patent laws could not be tightened.

The Mashelkar Committee report on patent laws, which was re-drafted recently to rectify certain controversial “technical errors”, has run into trouble again.

Carlos M Correa of Brazil, a patent expert of international repute whose views have been widely quoted by the Mashelkar committee to support its conclusions, has complained of “misinterpretation” of some quotes from a published article titled “Integrating Public Health Concerns into Patent Legislation in Developing Countries”.

Two years ago, R A Mashelkar, former chief of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) who headed the panel, withdrew the report after some portions of it were found to be copied from one of the submissions made by a UK-based researcher. The “technical errors” were later rectified and the government had recently approved the report.

The current allegation turns serious because the Mashelkar panel had included Correa’s quotes to establish that under World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s TRIPS agreement, India will not have the right to limit the granting of patents for pharmaceutical substances to strictly new medicines.

Correa, in an email response to Business Standard. said the the Mashelkar committee had misinterpreted the text quoted from his study to convey a meaning that he had not suggested.

In other words, while Mashelkar committee says India is obliged under WTO rules to extend patent protection to incremental changes made to known medicines (that have significant therapeutic benefits), Correa feels that a WTO member-country has the flexibility to prevent patent protection to incremental innovations in pharmaceuticals that are non-inventive but the result of routine experimentation and known techniques.”

“Inventive Step”

Let’s begin with the last sentence in the quoted text above (marked in bold). This is but an obvious proposition well known to most folks with even an elementary understanding of patent law. And most countries do include “inventive step” as one of the pre-requisites for patentability.

Nowhere does the Mashelkar Committee Report suggest that “non inventive” inventions that are merely routine or that deploy well known techniques should be granted patents. In fact, the Committee clearly states that while “incremental innovations” involving new forms with significantly enhanced efficacy need to be encouraged, it is “important for the patent office to be vigilant about setting high standards of judging such innovations so that efforts on ‘evergreening’ are scrupulously prevented”. In other words, “non inventive” incremental inventions that are merely routine ought not to be patentable.

Section 3(d) vs. The Mashelkar Mandate

At this juncture, it may be relevant to once again reiterate and clarify that the mandate of the Mashelkar Commmitee was never to examine the TRIPS compatibility of section 3(d). Rather, it was to examine the TRIPS compatibility of a provision advocated by the Left Parties (who were part of the ruling coalition at the time that the 2005 amendments were passed), that would have completely excluded patentability for all pharmaceutical derivatives.

The difference between section 3(d) and the proposed amendment that the Left Parties wanted to bring in is this: Under section 3(d), a derivative of an existing pharmaceutical substance would merit a patent, if it demonstrated a significant enhancement in “efficacy” over and above the earlier known pharmaceutical substance. Under the proposed amendment, no “derivative” would gain patent protection, whether or not it demonstrated significantly increased therapeutic benefits.

Correa Paper

If one were to go only by the Business Standard report above and the apparently similar sentiments echoed by both Prof Correa and the Mashelkar Committee, one is at a loss to understand as to what Correa’s quibble really is. Perhaps he will clarify in the days to come. Digging deeper, one finds that Correa’s classic report titled “Integrating Public Health Concerns into Patent Legislation into Developing Countries” states the following:

“The TRIPs Agreement obliges all WTO Members to recognize patents in all fields of technology (Article 27.1)24. When fully in force, this obligation will have eliminated the varying patent policy approaches that previously existed.

Literally interpreted, Article 27.1 does not permit the exclusion from patentability of medicines in general or, arguably, of specific groups thereof. Under this interpretation, WTO Members could not exclude from patentability even the “essential medicines” listed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

There are two exceptions in the TRIPs Agreement under which pharmaceuticals might conceivably be excluded from patentability, but neither appear sufficient to justify an exclusion, except in limited circumstances.”

The two exceptions that Prof Correa mentions, but is very skeptical of, is the “morality” exclusion under Article 27.2 and a proposed exclusion under “Article 8″ of TRIPS.

Let’s take the proposed exclusion under Article 8 of TRIPS first. This article stipulates that a member states is free to customise its patent law to cater to public health concerns. However, the article also makes clear that such customisation cannot violate any of the other express provisions of the TRIPS agreement including, presumably, Article 27 which clearly mandates that patents shall be granted, without discrimination to all inventions in all fields of technology.

Immoral Drug Patents?

As for the morality exclusion, Article 27.2 of TRIPS provides that member states may exclude from patentability those inventions that violate “public ordre” or morality”. The key limitation in excluding pharmaceutical patents from patentability on this ground is that a member state would also then have to ban the sales or commercialisation of any products based on such patents. In other words, unless India bans the sales of patented pharmaceutical products, it may not be able to deny patents to such products on the ground that such patents are “immoral”. In any case, given the recent ruling by the Delhi High Court in the Naz Foundation case, where the court read down Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code to permit consensual non penile sex between adults, and in the process drew a distinction between constitutional and public morality, it may be very difficult to label a pharmaceutical drug as an “immoral” invention!

Correa goes on to note that the only kind of patent exclusion under Article 8 that might be justifiable is a case where patents on a certain class of pharma inventions are excluded in order to address an “emergency” situation. However, even here such exclusions can be maintained only till such time as the “emergency” subsists.

Prof Correa then summarises his key conclusions by noting:

“In sum, under the current TRIPs Agreement, a straightforward exclusion from patentability of pharmaceuticals — even the category of essential medicines — does not seem to be a viable option. The admissibility of exceptions based on ordre public will depend on the interpretation of both Article 27.2 and Articles 7 and 8, but does not seem a promising basis for exclusion from patentability.

Exclusions to meet specific public health emergencies, especially if limited in time, might be justifiable if they are a necessary part of an overall strategy for addressing the emergency. “

Conclusion: Quote, Misquote or a Faulty Understanding of English?

Reading all of the above, I am at a loss to understand as to how Prof Correa claims that he has been misquoted by the Mashelkar Committee, which reproduced one of his key paragraphs above to support its conclusion. We’ll have to wait for the actual text of the letter that Prof Correa wrote to Business Standard to verify what he really meant.

In any case, even assuming that there was a “misquote”, would this really impact the conclusions laid down by the Technical Expert Group (popularly known as the “Mashelkar Committee”), which also included noted legal experts such as Prof (Dr) Madhav Menon, the founder director of the National law school and Prof (Dr) Moolchand Sharma, the Vice Chairman of the UGC.

Would Professor Correa suggest that India could exclude incremental pharmaceutical innovations as a class without violating TRIPS? And this is where it is important to appreciate that despite the passage of two years from the date that this first controversy broke out, with several groups levelling plagiarism charges against the Committee and even going to the extent of labelling Dr Mashelkar as an “anti national”, none of them have come forward with a substantive critique of the conclusions put forward by the Committee.

In other words, till date, there is no convincing paper explaining as to how India’s proposed move to deny patents to the entire gamut of incremental pharmaceutical drugs, irrespective of whether or not such drugs were actually inventive and yielded significant therapeutic benefits, would be compatible with TRIPS. We could argue about whether or not such an exclusion might be in India’s national interest. However, the Committee’s mandate was not to examine the issue from a “national interest’ perspective, but solely from the vantage point of TRIPS, to which India is signatory. And from a TRIPS standpoint, I fail to see how such an amendment might have passed muster.

I reproduce the key paragraph of Prof Correa’s paper that was quoted by the Mashelkar committee and resulted in the present controversy:

“Literally interpreted, Article 27.1 does not permit the exclusion from patentability of medicines in general or, arguably, of specific groups thereof. Under this interpretation, WTO members could not exclude from patentability even the ‘essential medicines’ listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

After quoting the above from Prof Correa’s paper, the Committee goes on to note that

“The statement that `Article 27.1 does not permit the exclusion from patentability of …… specific groups thereof’ is directly pertinent to the TOR of TEG.”

The Mashelkar Committee’s key conclusion is that a blanket exclusion of the entire “class” of incremental pharmaceutical innovations, without an independent enquiry into the merits or otherwise of the invention in question is likely to violate TRIPS. If the statement by Prof Correa above (that was in fact quoted by the Committee) is not supportive of that conclusion, I really need to go back and relearn my English!
ps: Contrary to what the BS report states, Prof Correa is an Argentine and not a Brazilian national. Though I’m sure that the Brazilians would love to claim him.

Posted by Shamnad Basheer at 4:57 AM

Court stops work on Parvati II project


Shimla: In a first of its kind decision affecting a large hydro power project in the state, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has ordered work to halted at the Parvati-II project being executed by National Hydro Power Corporation. Hearing a public interest petition, the court has asked the respondents to file their replies within four weeks and the Pollution Control Board has also been asked to file a status report.

The petitioner, Narinder Sharma, had claimed that all environment protection norms were being flouted at the project site, thus destroying the local eco system and also the livelihood of villagers. Interestingly, the court has taken strong notice of photographs attached with the petition showing muck being dumped without following norms.

HC upholds decision to regulate B Ed colleges

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 23 August 2009, 04:27am IST

JAIPUR: Rajasthan High Court on Saturday upheld the decision of National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) to put a check on the mushrooming teacher training colleges in the country by not granting recognition to many of them for the academic year 2009-10. Disposing of a bunch of more than 100 petitions filed by private colleges running B Ed or BSTC courses in the state, Justice Manish Bhandari observed that the NCTE decision satisfied the requirement of reasonableness even if the colleges have created huge infrastructure and recruited staff.

The court took a serious note of the fact that in Rajasthan alone the number of the trained teachers coming out of these colleges is nearly 1.2 lakh every year whereas the job availability is to the extent of 20,000 per year.

In 2008-09, there were only 5,593 vacancies for such trained teachers in the state but nearly four lakh applied for the vacancies. That means nearly 3.95 lakh trained teachers remained unemployed, the court said, quoting state government statistics.

Earlier, it was brought to the notice of the court that NCTE was conducting a national survey and many recognized institutions had been de-recognized across the country. Many colleges, including those in Rajasthan, have approached respective high courts questioning the NCTE decision. In Rajasthan, nearly 110 colleges were denied recognition to run courses with the objective of maintaining a balance between availability of the job vis-a-vis eligible candidates.

It was argued by the counsels for the colleges that the state government had made a recommendation to the NCTE to not to grant recognition to any college running teacher training courses even as the NCTE accepted applications from all the colleges and also made inspection of their institutions. Further, it was argued that the colleges spent huge amount creating infrastructure and recruited staff but only a few of them were given recognition for the year 2008-09, while many were deprived the same for 2009-2010.

Looking at the fact that the NCTE had taken a decision to regulate the number colleges in all the states, Justice Bhandari observed, “NCTE has taken a decision not to grant recognition to institutions to achieve an objective for which NCTE Act of 1993 was enacted… Since it is a policy decision in respect of all the institutions of the country, it cannot be overruled by the court in a casual manner.”

The court further held that the argument of the colleges that they had a fundamental right to run an institution was not an absolute right and it was always subject to reasonable restrictions and the action of NCTE met all requirement of reasonableness. The court observed that the institutions were aware that mere creation of infrastructure did not guarantee recognition of the institute by the NCTE. It also clarified that those colleges who had removed the deficiencies pointed out to them had been given recognition for year 2008-09.

HC halts work on Cenotaph Road flyover

TNN 23 August 2009, 12:43am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has restrained civic authorities from carrying out any further work on the mini-flyover at the Cenotaph Road-Turnbulls Road junction at Nandanam. The court has also asked the authorities to remove the debris, if any, heaped in front of a resident’s house.

Justice P Jyothimani granted the interim injunction on a writ petition filed by G Ganapathy, a resident in the Cenotaph Road area.

In his petition, Ganapathy said the writ appeal against the acquisition of private lands for the project was still pending in court, and apprehended that authorities were attempting to complete the construction in front of his house.

Noting that the original proposal to construct the flyover on Chamiers Road was changed, the petitioner said the private construction company carrying out the project had started digging up road to lay a ramp for the flyover in front of his house on August 5. He said he was not put on notice before the work was started.

“The debris, earth and other materials have been carelessly dumped on either side of the road without providing adequate space for pathway outside houses for exit and entry,” he said, adding that the authorities had provided barely three feet outside his house.

The narrow space is hardly enough for free vehicular movement and there was complete absence of turning radius for vehicles, he said. “Even pedestrians are finding it difficult to manoeuvre their way around this area,” Ganapathy said, adding that the authorities were constructing the flyover in a careless manner, which was a severe safety risk, besides causing immense hardship and inconvenience to residents.

This is the second round of litigation over the mini-flyover. In May this year, justice K Suguna had struck down a state government notification to take over land for the flyover project dispensing with the mandatory land acquisition norms. She had, however, rejected the petitioner’s claim that the alignment of the flyover was changed due to extraneous considerations.

According to the petitioners, all residents of the area, the project was conceived 10 years ago, and it was supposed to come up at Chamiers Road from Adyar Gate Club Road to Anna Salai, but it was changed into one linking Cenotaph Road and Turnbulls Road.

While the writ appeal in that matter is still pending before a division bench of the high court, the fresh round of litigation has brought an interim ruling which could delay the project further.

Give free treatment to HIV positives: HC tells Naco

Anuradha Mascarenhas Posted: Sunday , Aug 23, 2009 at 0139 hrs Pune:

In a significant judgement for the HIV community in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court has instructed the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to provide free treatment to all HIV positive people who need 2nd line drugs. The treatment will be provided through the State AIDS Control Society (MSACS).

In response to a public interest litigation submitted by the Network of Maharashtra People with HIV (NMP+), Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A M Khanwilkar noted that ‘the competent authority has taken a decision to provide free-of-cost appropriate treatment to the petitioners, who are allegedly suffering from HIV. The judgement was given last week.

At an earlier hearing, when NACO pleaded that they could not afford it, the judge insisted that they provide treatment, saying he would order the state government to give them adequate funds to cover it. Second Line drugs are essential for survival of many people with HIV. These are people for whom the normally available treatment for HIV, 1 st line drugs, have failed, cause too many side effects, or are no longer effective. These people need an alternative (that is, 2nd line or Alternate 1 st line) treatment, says Pravin Salunke Coordinator of the Samarth programme at NMP+.

The government criteria by which people can access 2nd line have been too prescriptive. Patients have been assessed not on clinical need but on such factors as whether they had previously received paid-for treatment, or the number of years they have been on 1st line. Many poor people who do not fall into the Below Poverty Line category have had to devastate their finances to buy the drugs or go without and face the risk of death, adds Vincent McDonald, Communications Advisor at NMP+.

Second line drugs cost approximately Rs 6,000 a month. Around 100 people have been receiving free treatment at JJ Hospital in Mumbai, The NMP+ has been conducting an advocacy campaign on this issue for many months. The Human Rights Law Network has helped them with the litigation in the court. NMP+ believes there are over 200 people who need 2nd line in Maharashtra. Of the 30 petitioners in the original court litigation filed in March, at least six have died.

NCTE entitled to regulate growth of institutions: HC–HC


Jaipur, Aug 22 (PTI) The Rajasthan High Court today upheld that decision of National Council for Teachers Education to put check on mushrooming of teachers training colleges saying this cannot be casually put to judicial review even if the colleges have erected huge infrastructure and employed staff.

Justice Manish Bhandari held that policy decision of the National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE) to put a check on mushroom growth of teachers training colleges by not granting recognition to the course for 2009-2010 is totally justified and cannot be casually put to judicial review even if colleges have built huge infrastructure and employed staff.

The judgement was delivered on a bunch of over 100 writ petitions filed by private colleges of state running teachers training courses (B.Ed, BSTC courses).

To reveal or not? Two judges, two views

Manoj Mitta, TNN 23 August 2009, 02:58am IST

NEW DELHI: The two high court judges, who broke the silence in the judiciary on the assets controversy, have come up with conflicting views on the stand taken by CJI K G Balakrishnan.

While Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka high court questioned the CJI’s authority to speak on behalf of the entire judiciary, Justice K Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana high court agreed with the CJI’s view that the disclosure of assets might embolden litigants to raise questions about the wealth of judges and compromise the independence of the judiciary.

Yet, in an extraordinary gesture of transparency, Justice Kannan sent a declaration of his assets to advocate Prashant Bhushan, convenor of the campaign for judicial accountability and reforms. His reason: “I hold views against your demand and … I still have no qualms about letting you know about my riches or lack of it!”

Echoing the CJI’s apprehensions about the declaration of assets, Justice Kannan painted a grim scenario that might unfold: “Imagine a judge enquiring into allegations of disproportionate wealth case of a bureaucrat. In the course of the proceedings, what if the litigant asks the judge, ‘how did you obtain your wealth, before asking me to explain my riches?’ It may not be a daily occurrence, but consider the mischief that the right to demand the assets statement of a judge could entail.”

In his response, Bhushan told Justice Kannan that the “marginal gain in independence” that would accrue from sparing judges the odium of answering uncomfortable questions about his wealth would be “more than offset by the enormous increase in corruption and misconduct of judges due to the lack of accountability.”

In contrast to Justice Kannan’s ambivalence on the issue, Justice Kumar has pulled no punches in expressing his disagreement with the CJI’s opposition to transparency. This is evident from the very first line of his long newspaper article, which raised eyebrows in judicial circles.

“It is a matter of utmost paradox,” Justice Kumar wrote, “that the chief justice of the most powerful Supreme Court in the world should be expressing, apprehension for the safety and security of the judges of the superior courts in this country by saying that revealing the particulars of assets of the judges and throwing open the information to public domain may result in harassment to judges and in turn prevent the judges from performing their duties without fear or favour.”

Since he was not allowed to disclose his assets on the high court website, Justice Kumar is reportedly looking for an alternative mode of making them public even in the absence of an agreed procedure.

Judges free to make their assets public: CJI

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 23 August 2009, 03:10am IST

NEW DELHI: Faced with all round criticism of the higher judiciary over its reluctance to make judges assets public, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan says if individual judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court want to make public their assets, they are free to do so.

Reacting to the criticism by a Karnataka HC judge that the CJI’s views on assets was not the view of the overwhelming majority of judges, Justice Balakrishnan said that there was no institutional deterrence against an individual judge going public with his or her assets.

“If an overwhelming majority of the judges in the High Courts and the Supreme Court are willing to declare their assets, what is stopping them? Why are they not doing it? Why is it not publicised?” he asked.

“All judges as individuals are absolutely free to make public their assets,” he said as if meeting the accusation levelled in certain quarters that though the judges are willing, it is the CJI who was stopping them from doing so.

“What I had talked before on the assets issue pertained to the Supreme Court judges, all of whom have diligently declared their assets and investments to me and have updated the list everytime they made fresh investments,” the CJI told TOI in an exclusive interview.

And he and other senior judges appear to be seriously concerned with the damage caused to the judiciary by the perception spread by vested interests that the judges are reluctant to declare their assets.

“None of it. It’s true we are concerned about frivolous litigation. But, we do declare our income and pay tax. It’s all in the records. But, the time has come to seriously think of some way to undo the damage caused to the judiciary because of misinformation,” he said.

“The Supreme Court will consider what we should do regarding the assets to be made public,” Justice Balakrishnan said. However, he asked this reporter: “Are the assets and investments of all government servants and their dependents made public every year?”

He said the SC judges have been scrupulously following the 1997 Resolution adopted at a full court meeting of the Supreme Court, which said, “Every judge should make a declaration of all his/her assets in the form of real estate or investments (held in his/her own name or in the name of his/her spouse or any person dependent on him/her) within a reasonable time of assuming office to the Chief Justice of India, who should also make a similar declaration for the purpose of record.”

Regrettably, many of the HCs do not even follow this voluntary declaration procedure, he said, adding: “The assets declared to the CJI by SC judges are held in confidence and if all the judges decide then it could be placed in a website or in any other mode by which it could be made public.”

“We should seriously think of doing something. We have not done anything wrong so why should we receive so much of rebuke,” the CJI said.

CJI constitutes committee of judges to simplify laws

J. Venkatesan

Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has constituted a Committee of Judges to bring out an authoritative series of ‘Restatements of Law’ on about 100 topics to remove ambiguities surrounding the legal principles and their applicability; clarification and simplification of laws for their better adaptation to social needs.

In the first stage the committee will identify the subjects suitable for preparation of Restatements of Law (RoL). It is proposed to have two parallel projects — long-term and short-term, having regard to the nature of topic, current relevance and need for re-statement.

The objective of the project undertaken in association with the Indian Law Institute is to identify uncertainties in law in basic legal subjects; extensive examination and analysis of legal areas requiring reform and statement of current law of the land by considering both statutory provisions and judicial interpretations.

The committee, comprising a few Supreme Court and High Court judges, eminent jurists, academicians, and scholars, has initially embarked upon a pilot project (to create standards as models) in three areas: legislative privileges, contempt of court and public interest litigation. The other short-term subjects are: corrupt practices in elections; treaty-making power of the state; preventive detention and adoption.

The long-term projects would be in administrative law; arbitration; partnership; succession; damages and compensation; interpretation of statutes and deeds and consumer protection. There will be periodical addition of subjects, revisions and updates of existing re-instatements.

Reinstatements unlike text books and treaties are not opinion-based; they are authoritative pronouncements of the law on a subject at a particular time exploring principles, interpretations, practices and impact. It avoids ambiguities and complexities as far as practicable by simple language, illustrations, comparative insights and incisive probes on fundamentals. They can be selective on issues and topics and need not be comprehensive on all aspects of a given theme.

The CJI is of the view that an authoritative series of RoL will be of enormous help to lawyers, judges, academicians, civil servants and general public as it is formulated with extensive inputs from various sources. When properly drafted RoL would reflect the consensus of the legal community as to what the law is and what it should become.

RoL on a subject will also restrict the practice of citing a string of old cases, every time a principle had to be stated.

For the three areas already selected, the committee will invite academicians, lawyers, judges and other scholars to act as authors, editors, advisers/consultants. They will prepare a draft report in each topic by the end of December this year. It will be considered by a sub-committee and after revision, wherever necessary, will be published by the ILI in a month’s time inviting comments, debate and discussions from the legal world.

Thereafter the relevant suggestions and comments received from the public would be placed before a full committee of judges for incorporating them in the draft report and the final report is expected to be published as a book before the retirement of Mr. Balakrishnan in May 2010.

Season of Dissent: Judge challenges CJI’s views on assets


Bangalore: Dissent is not just in the BJP or the Congress or privy to political parties. In a move that has raised eyebrows in judicial circles, Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court has said that the Chief Justice of India cannot speak on behalf of the judiciary on declaration of assets by the judges.

On Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan’s remarks that judges could be harassed if their assets were made public, Justice Kumar said: “On a legal place the CJI does not have the authority to speak for all judges of the Supreme Court, or High Courts, unless any of them have either confided in the Chief Justice or have authorised him to speak on behalf of others.”

In other words, Justice Kumar has said that the CJI cannot assume the role of a chief spokesperson for all judges across India.

The stand taken by Justice Kumar only shows that the judiciary is split over the declaration of assets.

In an article in The New Indian Express, Justice Kumar raised a critical issue on the very role of the Supreme Court, saying: “…the Supreme Court of our country has no supervisory power or control over the high courts in the scheme of our Constitution. High courts are independent and function in accordance with the constitutional provisions and in terms of the applicable statutory provisions. The Supreme Court only exercises appellate jurisdiction over the high courts in specified areas as provided for under the Constitution and the laws”.

The article’s title itself is provocative: ‘We have nothing to fear, hide’. This is in obvious reference to the CJI’s remarks made earlier that judges could be harassed if their assets were made public.

It may be recalled that the Central Government had to withdraw the Bill on Judges’ Assets in the last session of Parliament after a chorus of protest from the Opposition against the provision that a judge’s assets would be beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act.

But Justice Kumar is quick to point out that it was the Supreme Court itself that pushed RTI in the first place.

CJI constitutes committee of judges to simplify laws

J. Venkatesan

It will identify subjects for preparation of Restatements of Law

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has constituted a Committee of Judges to bring out an authoritative series of ‘Restatements of Law’ on about 100 topics to remove ambiguities surrounding the legal principles and their applicability; clarification and simplification of laws for their better adaptation to social needs.

In the first stage the committee will identify the subjects suitable for preparation of Restatements of Law (RoL). It is proposed to have two parallel projects — long-term and short-term, having regard to the nature of topic, current relevance and need for re-statement.

The objective of the project undertaken in association with the Indian Law Institute is to identify uncertainties in law in basic legal subjects; extensive examination and analysis of legal areas requiring reform and statement of current law of the land by considering both statutory provisions and judicial interpretations.

The committee, comprising a few Supreme Court and High Court judges, eminent jurists, academicians, and scholars, has initially embarked upon a pilot project (to create standards as models) in three areas: legislative privileges, contempt of court and public interest litigation. The other short-term subjects are: corrupt practices in elections; treaty-making power of the state; preventive detention and adoption.

The long-term projects would be in administrative law; arbitration; partnership; succession; damages and compensation; interpretation of statutes and deeds and consumer protection. There will be periodical addition of subjects, revisions and updates of existing re-instatements.

Reinstatements unlike text books and treaties are not opinion-based; they are authoritative pronouncements of the law on a subject at a particular time exploring principles, interpretations, practices and impact. It avoids ambiguities and complexities as far as practicable by simple language, illustrations, comparative insights and incisive probes on fundamentals. They can be selective on issues and topics and need not be comprehensive on all aspects of a given theme.

The CJI is of the view that an authoritative series of RoL will be of enormous help to lawyers, judges, academicians, civil servants and general public as it is formulated with extensive inputs from various sources. When properly drafted RoL would reflect the consensus of the legal community as to what the law is and what it should become.

RoL on a subject will also restrict the practice of citing a string of old cases, every time a principle had to be stated.

For the three areas already selected, the committee will invite academicians, lawyers, judges and other scholars to act as authors, editors, advisers/consultants. They will prepare a draft report in each topic by the end of December this year. It will be considered by a sub-committee and after revision, wherever necessary, will be published by the ILI in a month’s time inviting comments, debate and discussions from the legal world.

Thereafter the relevant suggestions and comments received from the public would be placed before a full committee of judges for incorporating them in the draft report and the final report is expected to be published as a book before the retirement of Mr. Balakrishnan in May 2010.

On statues, Maya tells SC to stay out

Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN 22 August 2009, 08:10am IST

NEW DELHI: The ‘stupa’ being constructed near Noida flyway with a crowd of statues will cost the exchequer Rs 203 crore and there was a budgetary allocation of Rs 294 crore for other parks and statues, the Mayawati government told the Supreme Court on Friday.( Watch Video )

All this “money has been sanctioned by the state government through budgetary allocations approved by the Assembly and every expenditure was authorised by the state legislature,” it said.

Before giving details of thousands of crores allocated for its pro-poor, pro-Dalit and pro-development schemes, the government sounded a caution. It said the SC would do well to follow its own judgment in 2008 which said, “The judiciary must exercise self-restraint and eschew the temptation to encroach into the domain of the legislature or the administrative or statutory authorities.”

It expressed annoyance over the manner in which hype was being created over installation of statues of CM Mayawati in parks and rebutted the claim of petitioners that only a dead person’s statue could be insta-lled by giving example of former PM AB Vajpayee and superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

“It is a wrong notion that only statues of dead persons can be installed, There is no dearth of examples whether in the country or abroad about statues of living persons. In the Indian context, one can easily refer to A B Vajpayee Institute of Technology and Management, Gwalior, and Amitabh Bachchan Institute at Saifai, Etawah. Abroad, we have wax statues of film stars, cricketers and other living personalities finding place in Madame Tussauds museum,” the state said.

Terming the PIL as “frivolous”, the state’s affidavit through additional advocate general S K Dwivedi said Mayawati’s statues were installed “only to fulfil the wishes of Kanshi Ram, who willed that wherever his statues were installed, alongside the statues of Mayawati, his only heir, must also be installed”.

Giving details of budgetary allocation for parks and statues in its 51-page affidavit, the state said, “The cultural department made provisions of Rs 194.2 crore in the financial year 2008-09 and Rs 100 crore in the year 2009-10.”

On the Samajik Parivartan Sangrahalay at Noida near DND flyway, the state said it would comprise two ‘stupas’ with galleries which would depict the life history of great personalities and social reformers and their deeds and actions related to social reforms and “not to glorify the chief minister”.

“The cost of stupa is about Rs 203 crore and not Rs 500 crore as stated in newspaper reports,” the state said, adding that SC should not entertain PIL as SC-appointed CEC was already seized of the matter.

PIL against additional entrance at Srirangam temple dismissed

Staff Reporter

The Madras High Court Bench here has dismissed a public interest litigation petition filed against the construction of an additional entrance by demolishing a wall near the maha dwaram (main entrance) of the Sri Aranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam in Tiruchi district.

A division bench of Justice Chitra Venkataraman and Justice M. Duraiswamy said the petitioner, N. Mohanram, a devotee, had not placed any material either from the Agama Sastras (ancient procedures on temple management) or otherwise which would not favour an additional entrance or widening the existing entrance.

The judges said they did not find anything wrong in providing an additional entrance or widening the existing entrance from four to six feet as it was done after obtaining expert opinion in order to ease congestion.

The Bench pointed out that M. Muthiah Stapathi (temple architect), president of the Stapathi Advisory committee of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, inspected the Srirangam temple on March 20 and opined that the existing entrance could be widened and an additional entrance provided in the second ring of the compound wall.

Writing the judgment, Ms. Justice Venkataraman said the officials had rightly gone ahead with the work after taking the assistance of the Stapathi.

Earlier, the petitioners counsel argued that the temple authorities had an obligation to maintain properties of religious institutions in their pristine character. Architectural, sculptural and archaeological features of every structure in the temple should be maintained with utmost care.

Appreciating the sentiments expressed by the counsel, the bench said it did not agree with his submissions based on Management and Preservation of Properties of Religious Institutions Rules. Citing the Stapathis opinion, the judges said that providing an additional entrance did not in any manner tinker with the architectural, sculptural or archaeological aspects of the temple.

Champaner heritage: PIL moved in High Court over legality of ASI notices

Express News Service

Posted: Aug 22, 2009 at 0423 hrs IST

Ahmedabad Raising a question of jurisdiction over notices issued by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), five people from near the Champaner World Heritage Site of Pavagadh in Panchmahals district have moved a petition in the Gujarat High Court. The petitioners are owners of commercial and residential properties near the world heritage site and the ASI had issued them notices to remove their unauthorised buildings. Now, the petitioners have raised an issue of jurisdiction of the law under which the notices have been issued.

Deep Vyas, their counsel, who argued the matter before the court, said: “We have been issued notices under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Site & Remains Rules, 1959. For the similar purpose there is one State Act — Gujarat Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Site & Remains Act, 1965 — and a Special Act, Champaner Pavagadh Archaeological Park World Heritage Area Management Authority Act, 2006.” Vyas said since there are three Acts for similar purposes, the authorities should decide which Act would apply in their case.

PIL on publicity vans dismissed

TNN 22 August 2009, 03:03am IST CHANDIGARH: On a day when Haryana government proposed dissolving of state assembly, a major relief to the state government came from the Punjab and

Haryana High Court when the HC dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL), challenging the recent launch of publicity vans by the government allegedly at the state expense for party publicity.

The PIL was filed by Vijender Kumar, former chairman, market committee, Barwala district, Panchkula, who belongs to Indian National Lok Dal. The petitioner referred to dispatch of publicity vans carrying pictures of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, PM Dr Manmohan Singh and state chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and pointed out that 144 such vans fitted with LCD television sets, stereo-system, among others, were launched on August 5 to apprise people of achievements of the present Congress regime.

However, this was nothing but an attempt to publicise achievements of Congress before elections to Haryana Vidhan Sabha, he added. The petitioner alleged the vans were launched by Hooda by waving Congress flag, which confirmed these were for party publicity.

Dismissing the petition, division bench of chief justice Tirath Singh Thakur and justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia on Friday stated in their order, “We do not think we can interfere with a public campaign meant to project achievements of state government…”

Loudspeaker rules apply to Ganesh mandals

Sukhada Tatke, TNN 22 August 2009, 02:22am IST

MUMBAI: Ganesh mandals will have to abide by the city’s noise pollution rules this year-those exceeding the sound limits and loudspeaker timings will be penalised.

Last month, the civic body wrote to the home department requesting it to appeal to the court for a relaxation of the noise rules during Ganeshotsav. The state has not replied so far. “This means the sound ban will apply during the festivities,” said additional municipal commissioner Madhav Sangle. “This year, also because of swine flu, we hope mandals keep things low key.”

Acting on a PIL against noise pollution, the high court in March ordered the civic body to demarcate silence zones-areas within 100 metres of schools, colleges, hospitals, cemeteries, houses of worship and courts. The BMC demarcated thousands of zones and officials say it is up to the police to enforce the rules.

The rules state that in a silent zone, sound cannot exceed 50 decibels by day and 40 decibels by night. Mandals such as Khetwadi, Nare Park and GSB will have to work within these barriers. One mandal member said it was going to be “difficult” to do this. “How can we not make noise?” he asked. “Bhajans, aartis, music and processions are part of the celebrations.”

Gauhati HC asks Assam govt to furnish records of TADA cases against ministers

The ghost of two-decade old TADA cases continued to haunt Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma with the Gauhati High Court asking the state government to furnish records of the two TADA cases against the minister.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by former BJP MP from Bihar Sukhdeo Paswan, a division bench of Gauhati High Court, comprising acting Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice BP Katakey, yesterday directed the reopening of the cases and asked the government to furnish the records before next Wednesday.

Mr Paswan had filed a PIL on August 14 seeking a CBI probe or an inquiry by an independent body into the TADA cases, with Dr Sharma filing an affidavit challenging the maintainability of Paswan’s petition as a PIL.

The court fixed August 26 as the next date of hearing when the state government must furnish its records and also Paswan’s counsel to reply to Dr Sharma’s affidavit.

The cases against the minister pertain to two alleged extortion bids by Dr Sharma on behalf of the banned ULFA in 1991.

Mr Paswan claimed in the PIL that the minister had used his political influence to subvert the law.


Powerless listing for Adani Power

Friday, August 21, 2009

Adani Power had a subdued debut on Aug. 20. The stock got listed at Rs105.15 per share as against its issue price of Rs100. The stock finally ended at Rs100 its issue price. The stock opened at Rs105 and made an intra-day high of Rs107.9 and a low of Rs98.5. Total traded volumes stood at 96mn shares on BSE. The company’s IPO of 248.8mn shares, which closed on July 31, was subscribed close to 22 times. The price band was between Rs90-100. The company raised close to Rs30bn through the issue. The retail portion was subscribed close to three times, the QIB portion by more than 39 times and high-net worth individuals 8.5 times. The issue, which was open to anchor investors, received bids for 9.4 crore shares against the 5.24 crore shares offered to them. According to reports, an environmental group has moved the Bombay High Court through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against coal mining by Adani in Chandrapur district closely located to buffer zone of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. Adani has been allotted coal blocks there for its Tiroda (Bhandara) power plant.

Court to pronounce quantum of sentence to Budha Jayanti Park gang rape convicts today

August 21st, 2009 SindhToday

New Delhi, Aug 22 (ANI): A Delhi court will pronounce the quantum of sentence to four members of the President’s Bodyguard in connection with the Buddha Jayanti Park gang rape case today.

On August 17, at the Patiala House Court, Additional Sessions Judge S.K. Sarvaria held Harpreet Singh, Satyender Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Manish Kumar of the elite President’s Bodyguard guilty of gang rape, kidnapping and robbery under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Of the four convicts, Satender and Harpeet have been convicted of gang rape, abduction and robbery. Though the court acquitted Kuldeep and Manish, of charges of gang rape, they were convicted them for abduction, robbery and common intention.

The victim, a 17-year-old student of the Delhi University, had gone with her friend to the park – which is situated near Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 6, 2003.

The prosecution alleged that Harpreet and Satender raped her while the other two accused, Kuldeep and Manish, kept guard.

The four first roughed up the victim’s friend and then took her to a secluded place inside the park before raping her, the prosecution alleged.

The incident shocked the national capital six years ago. (ANI)


Mysore Violence: HC asks police to give details

TNN 22 August 2009, 02:03am IST BANGALORE: A division Bench of the high court has directed the police and the government to give details of how and on what charges 40-odd persons were arrested again in Mysore after their release pursuant to an order.

The court was not satisfied with the statement filed by Krishna Kumar, in charge of the Hindalaga prison in Belgaum where the arrested are kept.

Following communal violence on July 2, 162 persons had been arrested. The court had found fault with the local executive magistrate then for sending the arrested to judicial custody, a power not available to him.

HC reverses acquittal of ‘rapist’ teacher

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 22 August 2009, 06:05am IST

JAIPUR: Reversing the findings of a trial court acquittng a government school teacher accused of raping his minor student, Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma of Rajasthan High Court on Thursday directed him to surrender before a trial court on September 18.

The judge has ordered the trial court to charge the accused of rape by a guardian in a public place under Section 376-B of IPC.

He directed the court to conduct a DNA test on the teacher and the child, to confirm the later’s parentage, who was allegedly conceived by the girl, after being raped. The HC reversed the decision of the lower court following an appeal which was filed by the state.

The incident took place on March 14, 2002 in Bundi district. The girl, a Class IV student, was asked by her teacher to clean a room, while other students were attending the assembly. Taking advantage of the situation, the teacher forcibly committed rape and threatened her with dire consequences if she disclosed antything. The matter only came out in the open when she conceived.

The trial court’s decision was based on the medical evidence which apparently showed the girl to be an adult, and lack of witness to testify against the alleged crime. However, public prosecutor Pyeeush Kumar argued the medical report found the girl to be about 16 years old. It was further contended that there cannot be any reason for a minor to implicate her teacher under false rape charges.

According to Sharma, in spite of unavailability of witness, the girl’s statement should have been taken into account. He said the trial court’s judgement is erroneous as it did not consider the variations, which can range up to two years, while studying the medical reports of the girl which declared her an adult.

The high court observed that the trial court had charged the accused under rape, but overlooked the fact that it was committed by a public servant, therefore ordered the court to charge the accused under Section 376 -B of the IPC.

HC stays GO to renew minority status every five years

TNN 22 August 2009, 05:22am IST

CHENNAI: A government order issued on November 3, 2008 requiring minority educational institutions to renew their minority status every five years was stayed by the Madras High Court on Friday.

Justice P Jyothimani granted the interim relief on a petition filed by Tamil Nadu Catholic Educational Association, which manages over 2,400 educational institutions, including 1,086 primary schools and 290 high schools in the state.

In his affidavit, the association secretary-cum-treasurer Father Michael Vyagulam said that once a minority status was conferred on an institution on merits, periodical renewal of the same status was unnecessary.

“If there is a change in the constitution of the governing body, by way of induction of non-minority members or by transfer of educational agency to non-minority community, the government has a machinery to verify the same. Otherwise, there is no need for periodical renewal,” he submitted.

The impugned GO confers minority status only for five years and deprives the institutions to enjoy the status permanently and continuously, he said.

A similar GO issued for self-financing engineering colleges was stayed by the High Court on the ground that it was unwarranted and unnecessary, he said, adding that the Supreme Court has ordered maintenance of status quo in the matter.

The impugned order is in violation of the orders of the High Court as well as the apex court, the petitioner said, and wanted the court to declare the GO as unconstitutional.

No new structure at Victoria: HC

TNN 22 August 2009, 03:55am IST

KOLKATA: Rising air pollution has already damaged the edifice in white marble with the black fairy perched on it. And Calcutta High Court won’t allow any more damage to Victoria Memorial, arguably the best recognised structure of the city. It has turned down a plea by the memorial authorities to start a new construction within the compound.

The court, on the other hand, directed the Victoria authorities to start setting up the suggested green belt along the roads surrounding the memorial.

The Victoria Memorial authorities had approached the high court seeking permission for a new construction within the compound as part of a Rs 48-crore project, to be taken up jointly by the Victoria Memorial and the Calcutta Tercentenary Trust. Setting up a state-of-the-art gallery, library and conference room were part of the ambitious project.

Even as the Victoria Memorial Act, 1903, gives the Victoria authorities the power to erect, manage and maintain the hall, the court observed that there was no provision in the Act specifying that the activities of the trust would be held within the memorial compound only.

The Victoria authorities came under severe criticism from the division Bench of Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice Tapan Dutt. “We find from the affidavit that the sole object of the Victoria authority is to make the said campus a place of brisk activities and entertainment without caring for the protection of the monument itself, which was constructed pursuant to the object of the Act,” the Bench observed.

And that was not all. The Bench held that granting permission for new construction inside the Memorial compound would, in fact, undo the painstaking monitoring and prohibitory orders of the court for the last seven years to protect the monument.

Environmental degradation of Victoria Memorial came under the court’s scanner way back in 2002, soon after environment activist Subhas Datta moved a public interest litigation on this issue. Taking Datta’s contention into account, the high court had imposed several restrictions in and around the memorial in September 2007, which finally led to the ban on new constructions inside the premises.

The high court had also disapproved of suggestions by an expert panel to examine the feasibility of any new construction in the compound. The court had held in 2007 that such a proposal went against the spirit of preserving historical monuments.

The court order on Friday is in sync with its previous prohibitory orders such as shifting of fairs, including the Kolkata Book Fair from the vicinity of the Victoria Memorial, a ban on the parking of vehicles near the memorial, burning of leaves or using open chullahs within a 3-km radius from the memorial premises and asking police to improve traffic management along the roads adjoining the monument.

Prisoners with HIV: HC seeks report from state in week

Shibu Thomas, TNN 22 August 2009, 03:27am IST

MUMBAI: Irked by the state government’s failure to provide care and treatment to HIV +ve prisoners, the Bombay HC on Friday directed principal secretary (home) Anna Dani to visit jails in the state and submit a report to the court in a week.

“Should somebody’s death await your discussions?” said a division bench after the state counsel told the court that a committee had been formed to work out a plan of action.

The court was informed that six HIV +ve prisoners had died in Yerawada Central Jail in Pune in the last six months alone because of lack of treatment. “All your proposals are fine but what are you doing about people who are already sick in jails?” the judges said. The court asked the state to explain why prisoners with HIV should not be released if the state was unable to provide them with medical aid. Advocate amicus curiae Yug Chaudhary said there were provisions in the Maharashtra Prison Remission of Sentence Rules to release prisoners with incurable diseases or those on the verge of death.

The court has asked Dani to visit 10 jails and the undersecretary will visit five prisons before submitting their reports.

Finance companies can seize cars from loan defaulters: HC

TNN 22 August 2009, 03:58am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court once again ruled on Friday that financial institutions have the right to repossess vehicles and resell them if a customer does not pay all the instalments.

Justice Partha Sakha Datta was hearing a petition by Pintu Bhattacharya, the manager of GE Capital Transportation Financial Services Ltd, against whom criminal charges were framed before the chief judicial magistrate of Burdwan. On December 3, 2004, Bhattacharya had been approached by the complainant Sourav Kundu, seeking finance for a vehicle. His vehicle was financed and a necessary hire-purchase agreement was drawn out.

Kundu, however, stopped repayment after paying Rs 2,40,315. On January 13, 2006, the vehicle was repossessed and resold to someone else. Kundu lodged a criminal complaint against Bhattacharya, claiming that he had been made to sign blank papers and cheques. It was also alleged that Bhattacharya arranged for an arbitrator in Delhi so that Kundu could not be present during the proceedings.

Bhattacharya moved high court through counsel Tirthankar Mitra and Phiroze Edulji, seeking quashing of all charges. The lawyers pointed out that according to the agreement, the company can repossess the vehicle if the customer defaults on payments.

After hearing the matter, Justice Datta observed that a customer is only a hirer till he has paid back the entire sum to the company. The court also refused to pay any heed to allegations that Kundu had been made to sign blank documents. “Once the complainant agrees that a valid hire-purchase agreement was drawn out between him and the company, such allegations have no basis,” the judge observed before quashing all criminal proceedings against Bhattacharya.

Hari Masjid firing: HC raps CBI

TNN 22 August 2009, 02:39am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay HC on Friday rapped the CBI for the tardy pace of probe in the Hari Masjid case. A division bench kept on hold a plea by the CBI seeking a six-month extension in deadline to complete the probe into the police firing in Hari Masjid during the 1993 riots. The court asked the CBI to submit a report on the status of investigations in four weeks, after which it would consider the application for extension.

Nine people had died in the police firing. Following a petition filed by Farooq Mapkar who was injured in the firing, in December 2008, the HC had transferred the probe to the CBI. The agency had registered an FIR against police sub inspector Nikhil Kapse who had ordered the firing. The CBI told the court that it was still awaiting response from various authorities. The court expressed its displeasure at the attitude of the premier probe agency, which had initially declined to take on the investigations.

HC for preservation of Victoria beauty

Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, 21 Aug: No further structure is to come up within the campus of Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH) as it would be detrimental to the beauty of the present structure situated therein, the Division Bench of Mr Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Mr Justice Tapan Kumar Dutt of Calcutta High Court held today. Since the project wherein a new administrative office was acquired at DL Khan Road at a price of Rs one crore has failed, there is no bar in acquiring any new property where an additonal building can be constructed to carry on activity even as a museum in memory of Queen Victoria, it was further held in the 20-page order.
“We thus find there is no just ground for permitting VMH authorities to make construction within the compound,” it was held while rejecting an appeal of the VMH to make a construction within its campus area. A Public Interest Litigation had been filed by Mr Subhas Dutta opposing the construction within the campus.
The review petition seems to have been filed without appreciating the importance of the order for the presevation of greenary, the Division Bench observed. The sole object of the VMH authorities is to make the campus “a place of brisk activities and entertainment without caring for the protection of the monument itself”, it was observed.
There are instances of the administrative office situated away from the main museum as in Salar Jung Museum, it was observed. The observations of the experts cannot be discarded as it has not found favour with individual officers, it was further observed.
If the prayer for further construction is allowed, the constant efforts of the Court in preserving the existing memorial for the past seven years by passing various prohibitive orders would be totally frustrated, the Division Bench observed.

HC sets aside CLB order on Lodha chairmanship

TNN 22 August 2009, 01:17am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta HC on Friday set aside an interim order of the Company Law Board (CLB) that had restrained Harsh Vardhan Lodha from chairing the AGM of Birla Corporation Ltd. The CLB passed the order on July 22 while hearing a petition by Rameshwara Jute Mills Co Ltd (a company under the joint management and control of other Birla companies).

The CLB had also imposed restrictions on AGM that was to be held on July 27. Birla Corporation deferred the AGM till August 24 and Lodha, director the company, moved an appeal in the high court. He also moved a special leave petition before the Supreme Court.

Lavlin case: SC to consider Pinarayi’s writ on August 31

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will consider the criminal writ petition filed by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan seeking to cancel the governor’s decision to grant prosecution and the charge sheet filed by the CBI on the same, on August 31. In the petition Pinarayi had cited the state government as the prime respondent and the CBI as the second respondent.

Supreme court added his writ into advanced list of petitions. Meanwhile the president of People’s Human Rights Committee in Thalassery, Adv T Asifali also submitted a petition in SC to include him as another party in the case. In his petition filed through Adv Sadarul Anam , he pointed out that the petition `jointly’ submitted by Pinarayi and the state government conceals many facts and avoided many prime suspects. Pinarayi also not submitted important orders from HC on the case and report of Balanandan committee, which are of prime relevance to the case.

Though the petition says that the order issued by governor is not right, it has not included the governor’s secretariat or secretary as one party in the case. Though the petition presents the advice by cabinet as main subject, it also not included chief minister who is the head of the cabinet, as one party. The petition says that both the parties should be included. In his petition Asifali stated that he was one party on all actions on Lavlin case when the case was considered in HC and with his intervention that CBI enquiry was ordered. Petition also says that the accused is trying to escape from criminal case without trail.

PIL filed in High Court on use of car sirens

A PIL has been filed in the Orissa High Court arguing that the misuse of flickering red lights by all and sundry in the government is creating difficulties for the general public as the vehicles are creating traffic and parking problems.


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 13:32:56 IST

UTKAL VIDYARTHI Abhiyan, a registered organisation has filed a PIL in the Orissa High Court arguing that the misuse of flickering red lights by all and sundry in the government is creating difficulties for the general public as the vehicles are creating traffic and parking problems. It also felt that the misuse may aid crime particularly terrorist activities, where a getaway car is a vital tool.

According to the Flag Code India, 2002 the use of flashing red lights is restricted to flag bearing cars, that is, only those dignitaries who have the privilege of flying the national flag on their cars. As per Section IX, Clause 3.44 of the above code the privilege of flying the national flag on cars is limited to the president, governors and lieutenant governors, heads of Indian missions abroad in the countries to which they are accredited, prime ministers and Union ministers, chief minister and other ministers of State or Union territories, speaker of the Lok Sabha, deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha, chairman of legislative assemblies in States and Union territories, deputy chairman of legislative councils in States, deputy speakers of legislative assemblies in States and Union territories as well as the chief justice of India, judges of the supreme court, chief justices of high courts and the judges of the high courts.

In Orissa however, a large number of government officials from different departments, judiciary and local bodies, State Government officials not connected with the police, officials of the board of revenue, tribunal judges, district judges, zilla parishad chairman, police officers working in non-police departments like printing presses, OSRTC, sports, GRIDCO use these red lights even though they are not authorised to do so, alleged Advocate Nishikant Mishra, General Secretary of the Utkal Vidyarthi Aviyan.

As per Rule 99 of the Orissa Motor Vehicles Rules, 1993,“A flashing red light with bulb of not more than seven Watts power may be fitted on the roof top and the vehicle used by the dignitaries who are authorised to fly or display the national flag, provided that such lights shall be put to used only when the police patrolling or fire service vehicles are on actual duty”.

Mishra said,“The commerce and transport departments of the Orissa government have been issued instructions to remove flashing red lights from the vehicles that are not entitled to use red light. However, after 11 years of these instructions nothing has changed. Rather, this misuse has increased, creating public nuisance and security hazards.”

The petitioners are hoping that the High court will eventually direct the commerce and transport Department, State transport authority and regional transport officer in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar to take immediate action against the violators of the Indian flag code.

‘Evening courts is a good step, if you don’t forget to appoint a judge’‘Evening-courts-is-a-good-step-if-you-dont-forget-to-appoint-a-judge’.html

Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar tells State that evening courts can’t become operational till it appoints staff

By Hetal Vyas

Posted On Friday, August 21, 2009 at 03:41:08 AM

Evening courts cannot work like magic if the state government does not provide infrastructure to run the same,” remarked Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on pending cheque bouncing cases in Maharashtra.

In a reply filed in the HC, the state government informed the court that there are about seven lakh cheque bouncing cases are pending in Maharashtra, out of which 2.88 lakh are in Mumbai. “In order to bring down the number of pending cases, the government will soon be starting evening courts to deal with cases registered under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act [pertaining to bounced cheques],” Additional Public Prosecutor Anand Patil told the court.

The judges then pulled up the government for lack of infrastructure in various courts across the State, including the Bombay High Court. “…this seems possible (to start evening courts) only if you can work without judges or proper infrastructure,” they remarked. The judges observed that the State government should consider providing necessary infrastructure, including judges and support staff.

“We hope that the government knows that the high court does not have enough number of stenographers,” observed the judges.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Nashik District Industrial and Mercantile Co-operative Bank Ltd. The bank had approached the court in 2007, saying that several hundred cheque bouncing cases filed by them were pending in magistrate courts since 2003. “The amount involved is at least Rs 10 crore. These cases should be tried on a day-to-day basis until the backlog is wiped out,” said the petition.

The government has been asked to submit, in two weeks, a detailed plan for setting up evening courts.

The need for such courts was first mooted in 2004 by the then chief justice of the Supreme Court. The State made it a reality just a few days ago. It issued the necessary notification – Maharashtra Evening Court Rules 2009 – after consultations with the Bombay High Court.

These courts will operate from 6 to 8 pm every day, except on holidays. They will hear cheque bouncing cases under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (26 of 1881), cases pertaining to offences that can be tried summarily under Chapter XXI of the Code Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) and any other case transferred to the evening court with the consent of all parties.

The HC will appoint, depute or transfer a serving judicial officer as an Evening Court Judge. Else, the government will appoint a retired judicial officer to the post, in consultation with the HC.

Religious places within silence zone ambit: Govt

Shibu Thomas, TNN 21 August 2009, 01:53am IST

MUMBAI: Making a complete about-turn, the Maharashtra government on Thursday informed the Bombay high court that it had reintroduced “religious places” within the ambit of silence zone rules.

Anna Dani, principal secretary (home), in an affidavit, told the court that about 1,313 religious places had been identified in the city and the BMC would put up silence zone boards within three months. The state had initially, in its notification, asked municipal bodies in the state to demarcate 100 m around educational institutions, hospitals and courts as silence zones.

The HC had, while hearing a PIL filed by city-based NGO Aawaz Foundation, asked the state to explain the reason for deleting places for worship from the regulations.

“The new notification means a ban on the use of loudspeakers, musical instruments and honking in the areas demarcated as silence zones, including around religious places,” said advocate Uday Warunjikar, counsel for another petitioner from Sangli. Under the law, violation of the rules is punishable with a jail term of up to five years and fine of Rs 1 lakh.

Legal experts say temples, mosques, or churches could still use loudspeakers if they ensured that the sound did not exceed 50 decibels during the day.

This follows a 2003 high court judgment which said the institutions could use loudspeakers within their premises if they complied with the prescribed decibel levels.

Further, for the forthcoming Ganpati festival, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board had directed all utsav mandals to maintain the noise levels in silence zones, said Dani.

The principal secretary told the court that the state had also designated district magistrates, municipal commissioners and police commissioners among others as authorities to implement noise pollution rules. Between January and July 2009, traffic authorities registered 67,873 cases against vehicle owners for honking or using musical horns in silence zones and collected over Rs 43.82 lakh as fine. The Mumbai police have been equipped with 88 noise meters to control noise levels, the affidavit added.

A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Ajay Khanwilkar asked the government to ensure that its directives on the noise rules as well as identification and demarcation of silence zones was implemented across Maharashtra within two weeks.

Govt to Centre: no panchayat Act for Delhi

Express News Service

Posted: Friday , Aug 21, 2009 at 0053 hrs New Delhi:

The Delhi government will soon approach the Centre for removing Delhi from the ambit of the Panchayati Raj Act, otherwise applicable in all parts of the country.

According to officials in the Delhi government, the 342 villages in the Capital are governed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, so panchayats are not needed anymore.

“We will soon write to the Panchayati Ministry for its approval in this regard. There are no panchayats left, and after 1983 we have not had any panchayat elections, as councillors are elected the representatives of the city’s villages,” Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said.

This move was precipitated by the filing of a PIL, where the petitioner had questioned the efficacy of the Panchayati Raj Act in the absence of panchayats.

According to government officials, the last panchayat elections in the Capital were held in 1983.

“After that, the government has not legally accepted any panchayat in any village. But the Act has certain provisions that are applicable still and may pose legal problems for the state government. If the panchayats are redundant in the Capital, we might as well do away with the Act,” an official said.

The last panchayat elections were held a few years before Rajiv Gandhi introduced the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution, under which Panchayati Raj was made a law.

While the existing panchayats were dissolved by the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor in 1989, villages have been appointing their own panchayats through an internal election.

“People usually appoint their own leaders, who are mainly the elders of the village but these panchayats have no legal sanctity. The issues discussed in these usually pertain to community matters and issues that need to be brought to the notice of the elected members,” DPCC general secretary Naresh Kumar said.

HC pulls up traffic traffic, municipal corporation

TNN 20 August 2009, 09:57pm IST

ALLAHABAD: The traffic arrangement in the city is gradually worsening, instead of improving, remarked a division bench of the high court while hearing a PIL filed by by a lawyer. The court also came heavily on the Allahabad Municipal Corporation regarding cleaning of the city and repairing of roads.

Making these observations, a division bench of the high court comprising Justice Amitava Lala and Justice AP Sahi said that crores of rupees were allotted to the municipal corporation for cleaning the city and repairing of roads, but this fund, it appears, is not being properly utilised.

The PIL was filed by a lawyer of the high court, Amit Shukla, raising various problems faced by the people like cleaning of garbage, removal of encroachment, controlling of traffic and other matters. The court was not satisfied with the functioning of the municipal corporation and the traffic police.

The court also asked the standing counsel to ensure presence of the SP (traffic) in the next hearing on the PIL.

Court asks police to book owners of non-insured vehicles

The Delhi High Court Thursday asked police why action was not initiated against the owners of the non-insured vehicles.

Justice J.R. Midha also issued notice to the police commissioner to explain why such vehicle owners are facing no charges and slated the matter for Oct 5.

The court was hearing a case relating to an accident in which a boy died after he was hit by a van in Haidarpur area of north Delhi Sep 8, 2006.

A lower court in May this year awarded a compensation of Rs. 5,66,000 to be paid by the vehicle’s owner and driver, who challenged the order.

During the course of hearing, the court was surprised to learn that the vehicle was not insured and was running on roads for years together without such insurance cover.

The court asked the investigating officer of the police why no action has been taken against the vehicle owner under Section 196 of the Motor Vehicle Act that makes driving a non-insured vehicle an offence.

The court also asked the car owner to deposit the compensation amount in the registry within four weeks.

Vigilance bureau arrests HC advocate

TNN 21 August 2009, 03:37am IST

CHANDIGARH: Vigilance bureau on Thursday arrested Punjab and Haryana High Court advocate and main accused Gurinder Singh Sahani in connection with NRI Tara Singh land deal scam. The accused was sent in two-day police custody for interrogation.

A senior vigilance official said as court had earlier rejected the accused advocate’s anticipatory bail application, Sahani surrendered in the district court, from where he was arrested. The department had earlier arrested Sahani’s munshi Harnek Singh.

Sources said investigation established that accused Harnek had sold 1/3 share of the property, belonging to Tara Singh, to OP Mittal by forging the documents. Harnek had accepted Rs 35 lakh, which he deposited in his account, for the deal. Meanwhile, Sahani, being the mastermind of the entire episode, transferred the amount into his bank account from Harnek’s account.

Upon his return to India, Tara Singh had uncovered the scam and lodged a complaint with home secretary-cum chief vigilance officer Ram Niwas. A case was registered on July 22 and a departmental enquiry marked against the estate officials.

Meanwhile, the administration had suspended two estate office officials and transferred assistant estate officer Ashwani Kumar.

Monitor functioning of meat processing unit: HC–HC/504894

Express News Service Posted: Friday , Aug 21, 2009 at 0500 hrs Chandigarh:

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to decide within three months a representation of Dera Bassi residents who have been complaining that meat processing units in the vicinity are causing pollution in the area.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, disposing of the petition filed by Dera Bassi residents, also directed the counsel for PPCB, A R Takkar to monitor the functioning of one such meat processing unit, M K Overseas.

The industry had moved the High Court demanding quashing of orders passed by the PPCB in 2007 where the Board had ordered closing down of the unit.

The industry had accused PPCB of malafide and had demanded that fresh samples be taken by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

After two years of litigation and persistent monitoring of the High Court, the samples taken by the CPCB found that the industry was not creating any pollution.

The CPCB has,however, recommended that the storage capacity of effluent storage plant of the industry be increased. The High Court has directed the industry to enhance the capacity and asked the PPCB to ensure that the industry does not create any pollution failing which the PPCB will have the right to take stern action against it. Another case concerning Punjab Meats Limited (PML) owned by Dr A S Bindra was adjourned after detailed arguments.

Allotment of goan sabha land only after advt: HC

TNN 20 August 2009, 10:02pm IST

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court has directed that henceforth no allotment of gaon sabha land under the UPZA and LR Act and the rules framed thereunder shall be made unless the date of allotment is advertised in a daily newspaper having wide circulations in the area in question at least two weeks in advance. The court passed the order so that all those persons who are eligible and desirous of getting allotment of gaon sabha land may apply for the same.

Issuing the above directions, Justice SU Khan observed that there is one general aspect of the matter regarding allotment of gaon sabha land which requires consideration. Generally, complaints are filed that proceedings of allotment are done surreptitiously and residents of the village do not get information of allotment. The procedure of `Munadi’ through beating of drum as provided under Rules 1973 of UPZA and LR Act Rules has become obsolete. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove as to whether `Munadi’ was done or not. In every village in UP, several persons read newspapers. Accordingly, it is essential that information regarding allotment should be published in newspapers. In this manner, procedure of allotment will be completely above board and transparent, remarked the judge.

The court directed that through advertisement, applications from deserving persons with sufficient details shall be invited and the available land be allotted to the deserving applicants. The applications shall be entered in a register specifically maintained for the said purpose. The receipt of applications must be issued to the applicant and applications shall be preserved at least for seven years.

HC courts digitization project

Rajinder Nagarkoti, TNN 21 August 2009, 03:52am IST

CHANDIGARH: Judiciary seems to be catching up with the electronic age, with Punjab and Haryana High Court all set to declutter by putting case records — running into almost 20 crore sheets — in the digital format.

The process of computerization would not only result in quicker filing of details, but also limit the scope of error in entering details. Once the previous data is put online — a process that is likely to take four to five years — the HC would continue updating its e-record.

On Thursday, HC invited expressions of interest (EoI) for scanning and digitizing old records of about 100 years. The high court’s e-governance committee would check the demonstration given by firms that show an interest, after which a final decision would be taken, an HC official said.

Once online, the cases would be categorized under type, number, year, petitioner’s name, respondent’s name, advocate’s name, bench name, among other fields, which would be discussed at a later stage, the official added.

‘‘Once work is over, HC staffers will be trained to operate the system,’’ another official said.

Punjab and Haryana High Court would have a copyright on the entire work, format, concept layout and design. Not only this, the firm carrying out computerizaion would be required to maintain complete secrecy and confidentiality. HC staffers would also conduct random checks.’’

‘‘After the project is over, the firm will return all files to HC in the same condition in which they were taken. In case on any discrepancy, the firm will be penalized,’’ sources added.

The high court has already written to UT administration, asking it to provide one acre anywhere in the city to build a central record room for storing 20 lakh old files.

Great help

‘It will save precious time and help store old record on e-database. Also, it will be a great help to litigants and judicial officers’

‘ Tirath Singh Thakur

Chief Justice

For 7 MPs, poll battle to continue in HC

A Subramani, TNN 21 August 2009, 03:35am IST

CHENNAI: It is time for seven of the 40 newly-elected MPs from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to fight a legal battle to save their hard-won victories.

For, the Madras high court has posted the petitions challenging their election, most of them filed by losing candidates, before six judges for hearing.

While Justice V Dhanapalan will hear the election petition questioning the Madurai parliamentary constituency results, Justice K Venkataraman will hear the one relating to the Sivaganga constituency. These constituencies involve two of the most high-profile MPs from the state — MK Alagiri and P Chidambaram.

Two election petitions pertaining to one result, that of Sriperumpudur where former Union minister and DMK heavyweight TR Baalu won, have been assigned to Justice S Rajeswaran for hearing. Justice K Chandru will hear the petitions challenging results in Ramanathapuram, where the DMK’s JK Ritheesh won, and Tiruchi, which was won by P Kumar of AIADMK. While Justice K Suguna will take up the petition against the victory of DMK’s S Jagathrakshakan from Arakkonam constituency, Justice M Jaichandren will hear the petition against the election of Puducherry’s V Narayanasamy.

The high court registry has already returned two other election petitions for certain defects. As and when the defects are rectified and re-submitted, they would be assigned to judges.

Results of May 13 elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry were declared on May 16, along with the rest of the nation.

Election outcomes should be called in question within 45 days of the declaration of results, mandates Section 81 of the Representation of the People Act. It would mean that the deadline for questioning the results of last general elections ended on July 1. Unlike other genres of litigation, where no time-frame is set, the RP Act states that election petitions should be heard and disposed of within six months.

Section 86(7) of the Act states that election petitions should be tried “as expeditiously as possible, and endeavour shall be made to conclude trials within six months from the date on which the election is present in high court.” The Supreme Court too has reiterated time and again that election petitions should be disposed of within a time frame.

But, both the RP Act and the Supreme Court rulings are silent about the legal status of cases which are pending before courts well beyond the deadline.

As the procedural rigour of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) is applicable to election matters, the proceedings involve elaborate trial and recording of evidence. After the statements of the petitioners are recorded, the respondents, who are usually the winning candidates, too are summoned to make their submissions in person.

Though, theoretically, the fate of an elected person hangs in the balance till the last word is said in the election petition, only a handful of cases reach the crucial phase, as in most cases courts allow the preliminary objection petitions and throw out election petitions. “It is very difficult to win an election petition, as the petitioner has to evidentially substantiate every paragraph/allegation in his affidavit,” said a senior jurist. If not satisfied, courts can delete the paragraph/allegation concerned.

A classic case of election petition is that of former chief minister MG Ramachandran whose election was challenged by one Vallatharasu in his 24-paragraph affidavit. When senior advocate KK Venugopal filed a recrimination petition seeking deletion of paragraphs for want of proof, the high court had struck down all the 24 paragraphs. “Only the cause title (name of petitioner and respondents) and the prayer portion of the affidavit remained,” a jurist recalled, adding that the petition was “of course, dismissed.”

HC dismisses explosive agent’s plea in blast case

TNN 21 August 2009, 03:46am IST

CHENNAI: Over two years after a gelatin-laden jeep caused a huge explosion on the national highway near Tindivanam, killing 17 people and injuring many more, the Madras High Court refused to discharge the explosive licence-holder from his criminal liability.

In April 2007, villagers who noticed smoke emanating from the jeep rushed to the vehicle and started throwing sand and water on the vehicle, without realising that it was carrying gelatin and detonators. When it exploded all of the sudden, 17 persons were killed and more than 20 others were injured.

M Sekar, owner and licensed explosives dealer, first moved the Fast Track Court-II at Tindivanam seeking to discharge him from the case, on the ground that he could not be blamed for the incident which happened due to the negligence of his employees who travelled in the jeep. All of them were killed in the incident. The present revision petition was filed after the FTC-II dismissed his petition in November 2008.

Opposing discharge, the government advocate (criminal side) cited prosecution witnesses who said they had specifically cautioned Sekar about despatching gelatin sticks and electric detonators together in one vehicle.

Justice M Jeyapaul, dismissing Sekar’s plea, said the statement of witnesses including experts in the field of explosive substances revealed prima facie that there was criminal negligence on the part of Sekar in transporting the explosive substance.

“It is not a mere accident on account of rash and negligent act of Sekar. Though he had no intention to cause the deaths, he had the knowledge (being the shot fire licencee) that his act was likely to cause the death. Records would show that he being the shot fire licencee, is also aware of the dangerous consequences of such combined transportation of explosives,” he said.

The judge then dismissed the revision petition of Sekar, holding that there was no reason to interfere with the FTC-II order.

HC rejects plea for CBI probe into Thangkabalu’s assets

TNN 21 August 2009, 03:55am IST

CHENNAI: A public interest writ petition seeking CBI probe into the assets of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president KV Thangkabalu and his family members was dismissed by the Madras high court on Thursday.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice D Murugesan said the petitioner, VK Palanivelu of Salem, had neither followed the procedure contemplated in law nor disclosed as to how he got the official documents from the Income Tax department.

Palanivelu, an advocate and Congress functionary, alleged that Thangkabalu and his family members had accumulated huge wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income and that complaints to the CBI did not evoke any response.

Countering his claims, senior counsel G Masilamani and K Ramakrishna Reddy, told the court that the Congress leader had considerable agricultural income with which he had made many investments. The petition has been filed with malafide intentions, they argued.

The bench, rejecting the petition, said that Palanivelu was seeking to set in motion the criminal law jurisprudence by filing a public interest writ petition without first approaching the authorities of the state police, who are competent to take action under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The manner in which the petitioner followed his grievance, clearly showed that he was motivated by political considerations,” the judges said, pointing out that first he complained to the CBI justice before the general elections in 2004, and then in 2009, again when polls were round the corner.

Noting that the latest representation to the CBI was given on March 6, 2009, the petitioner did not wait for response, the judges said. Instead, he filed the present petition seeking a direction to the CBI, the judges said, and dismissed the plea.

HC scraps BMC’s Rs 20-cr road upkeep contract

Shibu Thomas, TNN 21 August 2009, 02:17am IST

MUMBAI: In a major setback to the BMC, the Bombay high court on Thursday quashed a Rs 20-crore tender awarded for maintaining roads in the city and suburbs. A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Ajay Khanwilkar castigated the corporation and municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak for their failure to safeguard public interest while awarding the contract that smacked of “bias and favouritism”.

“Both the municipal commissioner and the standing committee failed to act and exercise the basic principle of fairness and transparency,” said the judges, adding, “The entire decision-making process suffers from the defect of uncertainty, ambiguity and arbitrariness.” The court also questioned Phatak’s consultations with chief minister Ashok Chavan, following which a waiver was apparently given to Chirag Constructions, RPS Infraprojects and Tarla Shah who were finally awarded the contract. This was despite the fact that they did not have the basic requisite expertise in carboncor technology used to fix potholes.

BMC had invited tenders in January 2009 for a two year contract for maintaining roads, constructing/improving footpaths, placing street furniture, railings, boards, raising manholes and repairing potholes. Initially, one of the main conditions of the tender was that bidders should possess expertise in carboncor technology. This condition was changed on February 10, allowing bidders to sign a joint venture agreement with the manufacturer of carboncor.

When the tenders were opened, following a representation by Chirag Constructions and others, the municipal commissioner waived the carboncor condition altogether. The petitioners, including Ashwin Shah, who had also bid for the contract, claimed that the other bidders were not informed of this change.

“It appeared that suddenly larger public interest and the interest of the corporation was overlooked and procedures waived for sustaining private interest,” said the judges. The court observed that it was the responsibility of the corporation to decide the roads that were to be repaired and the technology to be used. “It is not for the bidder to decide which road he would repair with what technology, more so a bidder who does not even have the basic requisite of carboncor technology,” the judges said.

Phatak’s interaction with the CM appeared to have played a role. “What was the need for the municipal commissioner to discuss the matter with the CM. It will be appropriate for us to leave the matter at that, while noting that this exercise by municipal commissioner seems to be beyond the authority of law. The shadow of such discussion, if any, certainly resulted in change in the attitude of the municipal corporation in awarding the contract to the private party,” the court remarked.

The HC has asked the BMC to invite fresh tenders and clearly state the terms and conditions without any ambiguity while keeping in mind the economic interests of the civic body.

HC reserves order on development charges at IGI

TNN 21 August 2009, 04:52am IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved its order on a PIL challenging the collection of airport development fee (ADF) from passengers departing from the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Manmohan reserved their order for August 25 after hearing the arguments from the Airports Authority of India, Delhi International Authority Limited (DIAL) and Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL).

DIAL counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi submitted before the bench: “The fee is an inter-generational fee and is being charged from passengers keeping in mind the future prospects.” On Wednesday, Solicitor General Gopal Subrahmaniam, appearing for the government, submitted that “development of airports is a private initiative and therefore, charging fees is not wrong and well within the law.”

“The airport is to develop the area surrounding it and the existing Airport Authority Act allows various airports to charge the ADF,” he added. Appearing for MIAL, senior counsel Harish Salve argued: “When we can charge the airline companies for using landing, housing and parking facilities, then why can’t we charge the passengers for using the other services at the airport?”

The public interest petition has challenged the ADF of Rs 200 cess on all outgoing domestic passengers and Rs 1,300 on international ones since March 1, 2009. Apart from alleging that the money being charged for airport development work was “placing undue burden on travelling public”, the petition also argues that in return for the payment, the passenger is not being offered any extra facility or value by DIAL.

Rape in child marriage: HC moved over ‘soft’ law

Smriti Singh , TNN 21 August 2009, 04:51am IST

NEW DELHI: Why is there a special discount given to a man who has raped his wife though the rape laws for others lay down stringent punishment?
Even as Delhi High Court is yet to take a stand on the issue of contradictory child marriage law making an under-aged pregnant teenager to languish in a Nari Niketan for months, the girl’s father is also waiting for the court to hear his petition against some archaic provisions under Section 375 (definition of rape) and 376 (punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code that provides for lesser punishment for marital rape of a minor.

Mahadev, father of Anamika (name changed), had filed a writ petition in 2008 seeking striking down of the sub-sections of Section 375 and 376 which do not consider rape of a woman by her husband as a crime. He had also challenged Section 6 (C) of Hindu Minority and Guardian Act and Section 198(6) of CrPC stating they were unconstitutional and violative of his and his daughter’s fundamental rights.

Feeling aggrieved as the provisions under the changed Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) led to ambiguities as the government failed to amend other related laws, Mahadev had challenged the legality of an exception provided in Section 375 in keeping with the old notion that all child marriages were not necessarily void.

The exception grants immunity against a rape charge to husbands of under-aged girls between 15 and 18. In the petition filed through counsel Arvind Jain, it was stated that under Section 376, a man raping his own wife was no offence, whereas, if the wife is between 12-15 years of age, the husband is entitled to a special discount and will only be punished for maximum of two years punishment. Mahadev asked the HC to strike down the general exception as under the new PCMA, a child marriage based on kidnapping was invalid from the very beginning.

The matter, after coming up six times before a two-judge bench, has now been referred to a full bench (three judge), which will hear the matter on Friday. On earlier hearings, the two-judge bench had decided to wait for the full bench order on the child marriage laws before dealing with the issue. However, with the passing time, the HC also issued notice to the union of India, which also failed to file a reply on three occasions.

On the last hearing last month, the Union of India finally came up with a reply to Mahadev’s petition. In its reply, the government contended that the law commission of India had already examined the matter in its 172nd report and recommended for exhaustive changes in the rape laws. On Mahadevs contention that there was no punishment for man raping his wife, the commission rubbished it by saying that excessive interference in the marital life would lead to discord in the social harmony in the society.

It also said that the commission had recommended for changes in sub section 376 (1) of IPC by raising the age of wife from 12 years to 16 years and punishment for rape of wife below 16 years has been proposed to be enhanced from two to three years.

Reacting to the reply, counsel Arvind Jain said, Instead of relying on law commissions 205th report on the basis of which PCMA was amended, the UOI has taken notes from the old 172nd report. In 205th report, the consent age has been raised till 18 and exception to section 375 has also been recommended to be deleted.

Want to disclose assets…CJI can’t speak for all of us: K’tka HC Judge…cji-cant-speak-for-all-of-us-ktka-hc-judge/504896/0

Maneesh Chhibber

Posted: Friday , Aug 21, 2009 at 1219 hrs New Delhi:

In the first open dissent by a sitting judge against the Chief Justice of India’s stand on declaration of assets by the higher judiciary, Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court has said that “it’s a misnomer to think that the judges of the superior courts are not ready to disclose their assets.”

Writing in The New Indian Express today, Justice Kumar said that the “most damaging and uncalled for impression (has been) created in the minds of the public” that judges of superior courts, who enjoy Constitutional protection and immunity, “are wary of disclosing their assets” and would like to keep this information “well-guarded…and also cover up a possible misdeed or a possible improper acquisition.”

Referring to Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan’s remarks that judges could be harassed if their assets were made public, Justice Kumar has argued that on the “legal plane,” the CJI “does not have the authority to speak for all other judges of the superior courts, whether of the Supreme Court or of High Courts, unless any of them have either confided in the Chief Justice or have authorised him to speak on behalf of others.”

Speaking to The Indian Express from Bangalore this evening, Justice Kumar said: “Why should there be a problem (in declaring assets)? I have said, ‘Put my assets on the High Court website below my profile.’ But there is some reluctance. I am looking for a suitable site to now do so.”

The Government had to withdraw the Bill on judges’ assets in the last session after a chrous of protest from the Opposition against the provision that a judge’s assets would be beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Underlining how it was the Supreme Court itself that pushed RTI, the judge said that the court had upheld the “high moral principle that the rule of law should operate uniformly; that the Constitution is above every one; that rights of citizens guaranteed under Article 19(l)(a) of the Constitution of India, i e, right of expression, should outweigh the personal difficulties and hardships that can be pleaded by persons occupying high positions and serving as public servants.”

LEGAL NEWS 13-15/08/2009

SC to dispose of PIL on Helpline for senior citizens


New Delhi, Aug 13 (PTI) The Supreme Court today posted for final disposal a PIL seeking among other things a special grievance redressal cell to address the problems of senior citizens in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

According to the petition, there was an urgent need to set up “round-the-clock helplines which should act as a one-stop counter” for attending the various problems encountered by senior citizens.

Citing instances, the petition filed by Brig (Retd) J S Bawa through counsel Shomona Khanna complained that senior citizens in the country in a number of cases were left to fend for themselves with meagre income or left to starvation since their own children in many cases have disowned them.

Similarly, the land or properties belonging to aged persons in several cases were being grabbed by vested interest and the authorities were adopting a callous approach even after complaints.





Flu attack: PIL filed against Delhi govt for inadequate measures–PIL-filed-against-Delhi-govt-for-inadequate-measures/500898/

Express News Service Posted: Wednesday, Aug 12, 2009 at 0050 hrs New Delhi:

A Delhi resident filed a public interest litigation (PIL) on Tuesday seeking judicial intervention for directing the government to provide adequate medical assistance against the H1N1 virus in the Capital.

Filing a petition through counsel Sugriv Dubey, Anjana Jain said, “The city hospitals operating under the respondents (the Centre and the NCT government) do not have sufficient number of physicians and nurses, besides laboratory technicians.”

The disease is spreading due to a lack of effective medicines and equipment, the petitioner contended.

“Even the medical staff is not being given protective masks — there is an acute shortage in Delhi hospitals,” the petitioner added.

Jain alleged that the government has failed to take enough measures at the IGI Airport or issue guidelines to schools to tackle the spread of the infection.





MPP to file PIL against curfew

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, August 12 2009: The Manipur People’s Party (MPP) President, Dr Nimaichand Luwang said his party will file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the Gauhati High Court against the SPF government for imposing indiscreet curfew and booking democratic protestors under NSA.

Addressing reporters today at the MPP office here, Dr Nimaichand said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC President Sonia Gandhi have been urged to dismiss irresponsible Chief Minister O Ibobi for disgracing democracy by giving misleading statement in the Assembly.

He said O Ibobi has created history for refusing to step down from his post.

“We are ashamed of Ibobi’s conduct,” Dr Nimaichand said.

He said, since Ibobi has no morality, the matter of his ouster will solely rest with the Congress MLAs and its partners’ MLAs in the government.

The opposition MLAs are helpless.

The AICC president as well as the MPCC president can dismiss him.

Dr Nimaichand further said there has been no greater offence than misleading the House.

He has to bear the responsibility.

He also said a public dialogue on the course of the next steps against fake encounter incidents and casting the public upheaval in the wrong light is necessary.

Speaking on the occasion, the newly re-appointed Spokesperson of MPP, RK Anand said it is a felony on the part of the government for the occurrence of fake encounter at crowded places in the heart of Imphal.

The commandos are violating the laws due to the inability of the government to control them.

He also pointed out that the government is instigating unwarranted action against those people who cried the misdeeds of the government.

He lamented that the government arrests people who protest the offenses of the government and booked them under NSA.

He wondered what will happen if the trend continues.

Condemning the action of the government, RK Anand also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Apunba Lup leaders who were booked under NSA.

It is the duty of the government to redress the grievances of the people through dialogue, RK Anand pointed out.

He said it is unwarranted to impose curfew to respond to the public’s protests.

Stating that curfew inconveniences the people, especially those who live hand to mouth, the MPP Spokesman urged that a solution should be brought through talks.

He said all the MLAs are taking oath to safeguard the legal provisions under the Constitution.

He further said that law cannot be violated to counter the militants.

If laws are infringed, the people are bound to kill among themselves.

RK Anand also wondered in whose hand the laws are.

All the fake encounter stories are similar.

It would be right to check and verify how many unauthorised weapons are with the Police Commandos.

There have been innumerable incidents wherein a man is arrested from his house with ‘khudei’ and later found killed in fake encounter with full dress, he observed.

He also wonders where the dos and dons of the guidelines laid sown by the Supreme Court have gone.

Saying that the present issue cannot be solved alone by the Chief Minister, RK Anand also suggests that the Assembly must be dissolved.





PIL challenges Andhra govt’s decision to release lifers

TNN 13 August 2009, 03:47am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to identify 1,000-odd prisoners, some of them facing life term for heinous offences, for their early release.

A PIL filed by an advocate alleged that the Y S R Reddy government has taken a decision to release prisoners flouting all rules and appeared ready to release naxalites and terrorists who have been sentenced to life imprisonment on being convicted for waging war against the state.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate M N Krishnamani said the SC had earlier directed the state government to prepare the list of prisoners in consultation with the Prison Board, which would take into account the antecedents of each prisoner before deciding whether he was entitled for release on commutation of sentence.

However, the government appeared to be in a hurry and its recent order conveyed that the exercise was being done at the behest of Left parties to release naxalites.

The Reddy government through senior advocate Harish Salve clarified that the government order was merely an exercise to prepare the list of prisoners who could be released. He assured that no prisoner was going to be released in a hurry until the exercise in consultation with the Prison Board was complete.

After getting a clarification on the intent behind the recent government order, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan declined to pass any interim order. It posted the PIL for hearing on August 24.

The state had issued an order on July 24 declaring its intention to release prisoners who have been convicted by court for life on August 15 and the chief minister had told media that about 1,000 prisoners undergoing life sentence could benefit from the decision, petitioner G Sateesh alleged.

He said the order, which was issued on the representation of the political parties and family members of the life convicts, proposes to release women life convicts who have undergone actual sentence of five years and total sentence of seven years, decrepit prisoners, all life convicts aged more than 65 years who have undergone actual sentence of 5 years and total sentence of 7 years including remission, all life convicts who have undergone actual sentence of 7 years and total sentence of 10 years.





Jodhpur lawyers protest demand for HC Bench in Udaipur

TNN 15 August 2009, 12:59am IST

JODHPUR: The lawyers community here is up in the arms against the demand of their counterparts in Udaipur to set up a Bench of the Rajasthan High Court there. They have decided to go on strike leading to suspension of all activities at the court from Monday till the Udaipur demand is negated by the Centre and the state government.

There are approximately 5,000 lawyers practising in the main Bench of the Rajasthan High Court at Jodhpur.

The lawyers, under the joint banner of Rajasthan High Court Advocates’ Association and Rajasthan High Court Lawyers’ Association, took out a massive silent march on Thursday and formed a huge human chain at Nai Sarak crossing here. They also boycotted the court and abstained from work.

On Friday, the agitating lawyers barged into the judicial section of the court, where the work of the listing of the cases of Udaipur was in progress, and forced the staff there to stop work. Rathor alleged that the listing was being done in pursuance of the Udaipur lawyers’ demand.

Sandeep Shah and Nathu Singh Rathor, general secretaries of the associations, claimed that at the time of formation of state of Rajasthan, it was decided that the secretariat would go to Jaipur, education department to Bikaner, revenue board to Ajmer and the judicial capital to Jodhpur.

“It was in pursuance of this that the High Court of State of Rajasthan was established at Jodhpur. Subsequently, in an unjustified manner, a Bench was formed at Jaipur in 1977, against which, the lawyers in Jodhpur observe strike on the last working day of each month for the last 33 years,” Shah said.

They alleged that the demand for the formation of an HC Bench at Udaipur is unjustified and a “calculated move to undermine the sanctity of its principal seat” at Jodhpur. “If such a demand is acceded to than each divisional headquarters, like Ajmer, Kota, Bikaner, will also demand a Bench which by itself is not at all feasible and will lead to a chaotic situation,” Shah pointed out.

Rathor said that a committee, Rajasthan High Court Mukhya Peeth Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, has been constituted to pursue the protests which will be jointly headed by association presidents Ranjit Joshi and Anand Purohit. Under its banner, the lawyers will begin a sit-in outside the HC main gate. Joshi warned that it may be turned into a hunger strike later, if required.





HC poser on swine flu

TNN 15 August 2009, 03:27am IST

NAGPUR: The Bombay High Court’s Nagpur bench on Monday took serious cognizance of deadly swine flu epidemic sweeping across India.
The court asked both Central and state governments to take effective measures to control the spread of H1N1 virus that has taken lives of 22 persons in the country and over one thousand worldwide.

A division bench comprising justices Dilip Sinha and Prasanna Varale issued notices to Union secretary of health and family welfare in Delhi, principal secretary of state health ministry, and director of medical education and drugs in Mumbai, NMC and GMC Nagpur dean.

The Union of India was not a party in the original petition, but the court asked petitioner to add it as a respondent. The court’s direction came while hearing a plea filed by mother of two school-going kids demanding registration of criminal offence against government officials concerned for their alleged negligence that resulted into several deaths in the country.

Petitioner Kirti Nipankar, who is also a lawyer, also demanded setting up of H1N1testing centres in prominent cities of Vidarbha like Nagpur, Amravati, Chandrapur, Gondia and Yavatmal as large population resides in the area. She has attached TOI reports to stress her claims.

Citing guidelines announced by the Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to tackle the deadly virus after the first death was reported in Pune, the court asked both governments as to when they are going to act on those guidelines.

The bench asked the Centre whether it had made any specific plans for Maharashtra to tackle the disease and told the state to cooperate with the Union government in its efforts.

The judges directed the Union secretary to file an affidavit on all these aspects within two weeks. Earlier, the court told Maharashtra’s chief secretary to file an affidavit in same period on arrangements made by the government to fight the epidemic, whether there is sufficient stock of required medicines and masks, and whether adequate number of medicos and hospital beds were available.

According to Nipankar who argued the case in person, swine flu had taken form of an epidemic and it was responsibility of the government and medical officers to take immediate steps to stop it from spreading. She prayed for screening facilities at public places like railway and bus stations, to keep the city clean, and to quarantine the people testing positive for H1N1 virus.

She also called on the need to take steps like free distribution of masks, checkup facilities, setting up of local testing centres and easy availability of the medicines for all patients.

Nipankar pointed out that many Vidarbha citizens residing in Pune were coming back which may spread the disease here. She stressed on urgent need to set up protection mechanisms.




HC directs education dept to consider woman’s petition



Madurai, Aug 14 (PTI) Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has directed the district education authorities to consider a woman’s petition seeking dismissal of a teacher who allegedly had an illicit relationship with her husband.

In her petition, she alleged her husband, also a teacher, had an affair with the woman teacher and he had even recorded their relationship in a CD, which was in her possession.

“She was unfit to be a teacher. Such a teacher is a disgrace to the teaching community and capable of ruining the student community also,” the woman, who has also sought a divorce said.

The petitioner said she had sent a representation to the school management and the education department officials requesting them to take action against the woman teacher. The school management had not initiated any action, forcing her to approach the court, she said.






HC gives green signal to Jaitapur nuclear power project


Mumbai, Aug 14 (PTI) The Bombay High Court has dismissed a PIL against upcoming nuclear power plant near Jaitapur in the coastal district of Ratnagiri, saying that a power project stands on a higher footing than other projects requiring land.

The High Court had earlier asked the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to maitain status quo, however, a division bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and Amjed Sayed yesterday lifted the stay to land acquisition.

Petitioner Dr Bhikaji Waghdhare and others, hailing from villages in the surrounding area, had opposed the plant, saying that ecology of the coastal area would be at risk.

But the High Court in the order said that the Supreme Court had upheld land acquisition for variety of projects, such as sewage treatment plant, public housing, IT Park, etc.





HC grants bail to Pednekars in the maid torture case

TNN 15 August 2009, 02:25am IST

PANAJI: The Pednekar duo, civil engineer Audumber Pednekar and his wife Minaxi, were granted bail by the high court of Bombay at Goa on Friday in the case of the alleged torture of their minor maid. Audumber was asked to deposit Rs 15,000 with the investigating officer at the Porvorim police station for grant of the bail, while his wife Minaxi was granted anticipatory bail.

The case had shocked Goa and even rocked the state’s legislative assembly after photographs showing the torture wounds on the victim’s back, thighs were published in the TOI edition of July 27. A single bench of Justice N A Britto pronounced the judgement on Friday morning after hearing petitions filed by the husband-wife duo challenging the Children’s Court order of denying them bail.

The 13-year-old girl had narrated to the police that Audumber, Meenaxi and her sister Tina had brutally assaulted her with cable wires and burnt her skin with hot steel spoons. As per the victim’s statement, the torture continued for a period of six months at Audumber’s residence where the minor was employed as domestic help.

After the incident came to light, on August 1 the Children’s Court had cancelled the bail granted to Audumber and had also rejected the separate anticipatory bail application of Minaxi. Both were directed to surrender to Porvorim police. But the accused did not report to Porvorim police, who then declared the duo as absconding.

The police have booked Audumber and Minaxi under Section 324 read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code and Sections 7 (c), 8 (2) and (9) of Goa Children’s Act. They are also charged under Section 3 (1) (xi) of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 as the child belongs to the scheduled tribe community.

Arguing on the matter on Thursday, advocate Arun Bras D’Sa, appearing for the Pednekars, argued that the police have already recorded a detailed statement of the minor girl. Thereafter, no such cogent and overwhelming circumstance had arisen for cancellation of the bail granted earlier to Audumber, he said.

At this point, special public prosecutor Carlos Ferriera had pointed out that the crime is a heinous one and involves a minor victim. He had also brought to the notice of the court that the police did not get sufficient time to complete investigations in the matter and therefore require custody of the accused.





Bar assn against quota in HC for junior judges

A Subramani, TNN 15 August 2009, 02:25am IST

CHENNAI: The higher judiciary’s proposal to reserve 50% of judge vacancies in high courts for subordinate judicial officers has triggered unrest among senior advocates.

At present, the vacancies are filled with eligble lawyers and senior district judges in the ratio of 2:1. On the agenda of the two-day all-India chief justices’ conference in New Delhi is a plea to modify this ratio to 1:1.

After an extraordinary general body meeting on Friday, the Madras Bar Association (MBA) unanimously decided to request the Centre and the Supreme Court to give up any ratio’ for the elevation of subordinate judicial officers to high courts.

MBA president and senior advocate R Krishnamoorthy said it was alarming news and that the move had to be nipped in the bud. The former president of the Madras High Court Advocates Association, R Gandhi, said a similar attempt had been foiled in 1927.

Senior advocate and former MBA president TV Ramanujun said subordinate judicial officers could not treat a high court position as an avenue of promotion.

Advocate NGR Prasad said there should not be any quota at all if there were no competent candidates in the subordinate judiciary. Senior counsel R Shanmugasundaram felt the MBA must mobilise national opinion against the agenda. Satish Parasaran said advocates should not recognise the ratio, be it 2:1 or 1:1, lest it was accorded constitutional sanctity.

In its resolution, the MBA said lawyer-turned-judges had experience in different types of litigation involving writ, intellectual property, patent law and taxation issues. “Any ratio in the appointment of High Court judges would be one not sanctioned by the Constitution, and even the present practice (2:1 ratio) has to be given up.”

Tamil Nadu Advocates Association (TNAA) president S Prabakaran sent a representation to Chief Justice of India, justice KG Balakrishnan, urging him to scrap the move.




HC rejects Jet’s plea over Indland Air Travel Tax

14 Aug 2009, 1814 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has rejected a petition by Jet Airways challenging a penalty of close to Rs 44 lakhs imposed on the airline by the government for a delay in submission of Indland Air Travel Tax (IATT) collected from passengers.

A division bench comprising Justice A K Sikri and Justice Valmiki J Mehta dismissed Jet’s submission that IATT collected from passengers in January, 2002 was not deposited on time due to some financial difficulties.

“We do not have any discretion to waive it,” the bench said.

The court also rejected the carrier’s submission that the officials imposed the penalty of Rs 43.50 lakh wrongfully saying, IATT rules do not have such provisions.

Jet Airways had challenged imposition of a little more than Rs 3.33 lakh as interest and Rs 43.50 lakh as penalty by the Ministry of Finance over late payment of IATT collected from its passengers for the month of January 2002.

Jet Airways had collected Rs 26.70 crore as IATT for the said period. However, it deposited only Rs 24.53 crore in the government’s account within the stipulated period of 15 days, mentioned in the Finance Act.

As per the sectoral regulations, a carrier is required to collect 15 per cent of the fair paid by the passenger as IATT and deposit it in the government exchequer within 15 days.






Chief Justice’s ‘ration card’ is fake, say Mumbai cops

Swati Deshpande, TNN 15 August 2009, 01:07am IST

MUMBAI: The ration card “issued” in the name of `Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar’ on a Dadar address was totally fake and not issued by an authorised rationing officer, states a report submitted by the Mumbai police to the Bombay high court. Senior IPS officer K L Prasad submitted the report on Friday based on investigations done by the Shivaji Park police station into the sting operation executed by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to get a ration card in the Chief Justice’s name.

The MNS had filed a petition challenging the use of ration cards as proof of residence and identity by the Election Commission for the forthcoming state elections. The matter is pending in the high court with the EC looking into the issue. The MNS, however, had produced the CJ’s `ration card’ and the court had ordered an inquiry into it.

According to the report, the rationing officer who is supposed to have visited the CJ’s residence is not even an officer at the Dadar office. The Joglekar building mentioned as CJ’s address exists, but has only 10 flats and none numbered 55 as the card stated. Significantly, the report said that the ration card number on CJ’s card corresponded with that of Mira Road resident.

Government pleader D Nalawade submitted the affidavit of the deputy secretary food and civil supplies stating that the card was “totally false” and an FIR has been lodged against unknown persons for fabrication. The court will hear the matter after two weeks now.





New Act to protect rights of fishermen is likely soon

Ashley D’Mello, TNN 15 August 2009, 01:11am IST

MUMBAI: The central government plans to frame an Act to protect the rights of fishing communities across the country on the lines of the Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, notified in December 2007.

Stating this, Jairam Ramesh, Central minister for Environment and Forests, said the discussions being held seek an Act which will recognise and protect the livelihood and housing of fishing communities. A draft bill will be ready shortly, he said.

Ramesh was speaking at a consultation on the CRZ regulations being conducted by his ministry. Fishing communities present at the meeting welcomed the move, saying there was a dire need to protect the several million fishermen and their families along the country’s vast coastline. Development activities and the rampant pollution were rendering their fishing grounds unproductive, they said. The meeting saw several NGOs and fishermen ccooperatives point out that the traditional koliwadas they lived in were in a state of neglect. Environment activist Debi Goenka bemoaned that while the CRZ rules were in force, no action was taken against the violators. “No punishment has been drafted into the notification,” he said.

Rambhau Patil and Ramesh Dhuri, representing fishermen’s organisations, pointed out that projects continue to come up along the states coastline, but there is no proper assessment of the violations and fishermen who are displaced.




Lawyer, aide held for surety fraud

Vijay V Singh , TNN 15 August 2009, 01:15am IST

MUMBAI: An advocate and her aide have been arrested for faking identity to stand surety in court in lieu of money.
Sadhana Varsine and her associate, Bandu Korde, were exposed when the latter stood surety in two different cases within a few days before the same magistrate. The court asked the Andheri police to investigate the matter.

Korde stood surety before the Andheri magistrate last month in a cheating case, when the court noticed that he had done the same in another case registered at Sahar police station a few days ago. The magistrate asked court staff to verify the surety-related documents of both the cases and learnt that Korde had given different names and submitted forged documents. Advocate Varsine was representing the accused in both cases.

The court first asked Andheri police station to register a case against Korde. Sub inspector Sanjay Pawar said, “He told us that he had come to the Andheri court for personal work when he overheard a few people discuss that they were in urgent need of someone to stand surety. They offered Korde money and he agreed.”

Korde told the officers that he was persuaded to do so by two persons known to Varsine. Investigators, after verifying what they learnt from him, arrested Varsine on August 11. Both Varsine and Korde have been remanded in judicial custody. Pointing out that it was Varsine’s responsibility to verify surety-related documents before producing them in court, police officers said that they arrested her only after ascertaining her involvement in the case. Cops are now on the look out for two more accused, who forged surety documents.

A resident of Nalasopara, Korde is unemployed. He used to charge Rs 3,000 for every case in which he stood surety.






DF to appeal against dropping of MCOCA

S Balakrishnan, TNN 15 August 2009, 01:29am IST

MUMBAI: The DF government will file an appeal in the Bombay high court next week against the order of a special court that MCOCA cannot be applied against sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Purohit and other accused in the blasts at Malegaon and other places.

Minister of state for home (urban) Arif Naseem Khan on Friday said a panel of four lawyers, Harish Salve, Rohini Salian, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and Amit Desai, will appear for the state. He said the special court had earlier said there was a prima facie case.

Khan added that the ATS was on the lookout for three more persons, who could throw light on the plots for the blasts at Malegaon, Nanded, Parbhani and other places. “ATS teams had raided several places in MP, Karnataka and HP, but could not nab the accused. The BJP governments in these states are sheltering them,” Khan said.

Salian said only HC could exercise the power to quash MCOCA proceedings.






Duped by kin, she will get Rs 9L back

TNN 14 August 2009, 11:47pm IST

NEW DELHI: Defeated by age, 61-year-old Madhu Bala Guptrup had no option but to rely on her relatives to take care of her. Reality dawned on the single lady and her hopes were shattered when she realized her cousins had duped her.

In a major relief, Guptrup’s long battle to get justice has finally ended with a trial court asking her two accused cousins to refund Rs 9 lakh withdrawn fraudulently from two joint accounts at a post office.

“Unfortunately, we do not have a place in our security laws for senior citizens in our country. The court cannot be a mute spectator till the legislators decide to act. Senior citizens cannot be allowed to be exploited at the fag end of their life by their own near and dear ones,” Additional District Judge Kamini Lau said.

Guptrup had filed a petition against her cousins Satyender Nath Singhal, Shail Kumari and the post master, alleging that Rs 9 lakh, deposited by her in two joint accounts with them, had been withdrawn and misappropriated in 2007. “The plaintiff an old, single and illiterate lady who is totally dependent upon her first cousins, each of whom is accusing the other of financially exploiting the plaintiff on pretext of taking care of her interest by claiming that she is unable to take care of herself has been a person of weak and unsound mind,” the court said.

Unaware of her money having been withdrawn from the joint accounts, Guptrup sought help under the RTI Act to seek details of her accounts. Singhal and Kumari, who got the accounts closed without intimating their senior cousin and co-depositor Guptrup, took the plea that they could withdraw the money without her consent as per the terms and conditions of the accounts.

“Despite the fact that not a single penny was deposited by the defendants (cousins) in the said accounts, the said amount was prematurely withdrawn after statutory deductions by prematurely closing the accounts,” the court said.

It also directed the district magistrate, Nainital, to ask its welfare officer to ensure Guptrup was not subjected to any financial exploitation by her relatives with whom she was staying there.






Batla case: Medals for cops

TNN 14 August 2009, 11:52pm IST

NEW DELHI: Four officers of special cell who took part in Batla House encounter are among 30 personnel of Delhi Police, who have been awarded police medals on the occasion of Independence Day.

Joint Commissioner (Traffic) S N Srivastava and Deputy Commissioner (New Delhi) Shankar Dash have been conferred police medal for distinguished service while 15 are selected for police medal for gallantry. Thirteen others have been rewarded with police medal for meritorious service.

Those who have selected for police medal for gallantry include deputy commissioner (south) H G S Dhaliwal and assistant commissioner of police (special cell) Sanjeev Kumar Yadav. ACP Yadav has been given another gallantry award along with sub inspector Chandrika Prasad and head constable Dev Dutt for an operation in 2006 at Haridwar in which Mohammad Tariq, a sharp-shooter linked with Chhota Shakil, was killed.

For Batla House encounter, Yadav along with sub inspector Dharmender Kumar, head constables Balwant Singh and Rajbir Singh have been awarded gallantry award. Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma died in the operation and his wife Maya Sharma was awarded Ashok Chakra on January 26 this year. Those who got the police medal for meritorious services include an assistant commissioner, three inspectors, two sub inspectors, one woman assistant sub inspector and two head constables.

Dhaliwal has been awarded for his leadership role in the encounter in which Omprakash alias Bunty, a notorious criminal who was heading a bikers’ gang, was killed. Besides Dhaliwal, other officers who have been awarded with police medal for gallantry for their role in encounter of Bunty and his accomplices are ACP (Mehrauli) Bhisham Singh and inspector (special staff) Vijay Singh.




7 cops ‘covered up’ Ghaziabad murder trail

Dwaipayan Ghosh, TNN 15 August 2009, 12:16am IST

NEW DELHI/GHAZIABAD: It’s an incredible story of alleged criminal-cop nexus. Ghaziabad police has claimed that, in true Bollywood style, seven bad cops from Delhi and Haryana provided alibi to a gang that executed the murder of a realtor and his security guard in a daring shootout on November 29 last year. They were shown to be in custody when the murders were executed.

These men sprung an ambush on property dealer Satish Yadav and his guard, Dharmendra, when their car reached the Sadarpur crossing and slowed down. They had taken position near a canal and opened fire from their automatic weapons. A service revolver was also allegedly used.

And according to the Ghaziabad Police sleuths, the assailants quietly sneaked back into police lock-ups only to be produced later that day in court for petty offences for which they had been booked a day earlier.

A Ghaziabad court has now issued arrest warrants against the seven policemen. The court has directed the police to arrest assistant sub-inspector Dinesh, posted in north-east district, constables Govind Sahay and Shiv Kumar, stationed at Pandav Nagar police station in east Delhi, and constables Samarjeet, Naveen Kumar, Naurang Singh and Dayanand, who are all posted in Faridabad, Haryana. According to Ghaziabad Police sources, two more policemen from Delhi Police might also be arrested in the case.

“The arrest warrants are being executed. We will be asking the district police in east and north-east Delhi and the Faridabad superintendent of police to arrest the policemen. If they don’t do so, we will arrest them,” said Ghaziabad SSP Akhil Kumar.

Senior officials in both districts in Delhi denied having received any communication in this regard. However, joint commissioner (New Delhi Range) Dharmendra Kumar said the process might take a couple of days because of the long weekend. “We will go through the warrant and decide our course of action. No one, if found guilty, will be spared. However, it is inappropriate to hazard a guess on a court warrant. We will comment only when we go through the entire order,” said Kumar.

Satish and Dharmendra were shot dead when they were returning from a wedding in Sadarpur village in an Innova. Another person, Hari Om, who was in the car, was also injured.

Satish’s family registered an FIR against local Bahujan Samaj Party leader Rakesh Pahalwan, Ashok Yadav, Shobha Ram, Rukam Kesh, Yogesh, Vishal Ranga and Harsh at the Kavi Nagar police station in Ghaziabad. “As our investigations progressed, we found that the accused had a feud with the victim’s family. The family in fact alleged that the same men had killed three other family members and a servant. It was after we arrested them that the accused claimed they were not on the spot as all of them were in police custody. This set us thinking and investigations into the police role began,” said a UP cop.

Investigations carried out by the special investigation squad after it was handed over the case by the Kavi Nagar police station allegedly revealed that a day before Satish and Dharmendra were murdered, ASI Dinesh of the proclaimed offenders department had arrested two of the seven accused for smuggling liquor. The same day, constables Govind and Shiv had arrested a couple of other accused while Haryana Police constables Samarjeet, Naveen, Naurang and Dayanand had allegedly arrested the remaining in Faridabad.

As the accused were arrested on November 28, they had to be produced in the respective courts the next day, the day of the murders.

It is being alleged that the policemen freed the accused who went and executed the killings. They later returned to their respective police stations.





DVAC turns on heat, but corrupt officials find ways to avoid traps

K Praveen Kumar, TNN 15 August 2009, 02:22am IST

CHENNAI: While the revenue department, TNEB and police top the department-wise list of corruption cases this year, officials working in other government departments, such as transport which includes the regional transport offices, highways, commercial taxes, PWD and registration departments, all of which are known for deep-rooted corruption, are said to be finding ingenious ways to keep DVAC officials at bay, said sources.

DVAC has found it difficult to get breakthroughs and book corrupt officials in these departments, officials told TOI. RTOs across the state are riddled with corruption but DVAC managed to register only two cases against the department in 2009, sources added. The registration department, also infamous for money changing hands illegally, had only six cases registered against it this year; the PWD had only one case against it.

“It is very difficult to get complaints against these departments. Those who pay bribes, as well as officials, stand to gain, so no one comes forward to lodge a complaint. Moreover, officials have become smart in finding ways to avoid arrest. Even if we conduct a raid, we hardly get any material to register a case,” a DVAC official said.

Corrupt officials in some of the departments do not accept money inside offices. Their agents collect the money from beneficiaries and pass it on to officials once a month or when an opportunity presents itself. The transactions are conducted outside offices, sources said. They added that some officials operated exclusive bank accounts to enable people to deposit bribes. “In a case in Tiruchi, we found an engineer attached to the agriculture department had an account exclusively for depositing bribes. We seized Rs 8 lakh from it,” an official pointed out.

“If there is factionalism in a department, we get easy information. The police, TNEB and forest departments are examples. As far as the revenue department is concerned, affected parties are the common folk who even take loans to pay bribes. So, we receive several complaints against the department. On the contrary, in the transport, highways and PWD departments, favours are made to big contractors and dealers and they never lodge a complaint,” the official added.

Also, corrupt officials are now wary of DVAC raids as several were carried out this year. According to DVAC sources, after the raid on the office of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation MD this year, and seizures, officials decided not to accept money inside offices.




Freedom fighter’s 10-yr battle for pension ends on I-Day eve

A Subramani, TNN 15 August 2009, 02:24am IST

CHENNAI: When the nation celebrates 62nd Independence Day on Saturday, freedom fighter KS Varatharasan will have something to cheer about. His decade-long legal battle for the much-delayed freedom fighter’s pension came to an end on Friday with the Madras high court asking the government to consider his claim favourably.

Ever since his application for the pension was rejected by the Coimbatore district administration in 1999, Varatharasan has been pursuing his case in the Madras high court.

On Friday, Justice M Dhanapalan rapped bureaucrats who had denied pension for Varatharasan citing unsustainable grounds, and said: “The object of providing pension under the Freedom Fighter Pension Scheme is to honour and mitigate the sufferings of those who had given their all for the country. Once the country has decided to honour such freedom fighters, the bureaucrats entrusted with the job of examining the cases of such freedom fighters are expected to keep in mind the purpose and object of the scheme.”

Varatharasan participated in the Quit India movement and was imprisoned for seven months between August 1942 and March 1943. He was again jailed between September and December 1947 for participating in the Mysore State Freedom Movement for merger of Mysore state with the Indian union.

But, in spite of a certificate of proof from the senior superintendent of the Central Jail in Bangalore as well as letters of support from three other co-prisoners, the freedom fighter was asked to come up with some other certificate’ by the officials.

Justice Dhanapalan, ruling that the government was not justified in rejecting the certificates of proof submitted by Varatharasan, said his due claims had been erroneously rejected by the authorities, who did not even consider a favourable recommendation from the district collector on two occasions.

Noting that there was no reason for the the government to take an adverse view than the one taken by the collector, the judge set aside the rejection order and directed the authorities to consider the pension claim of Varatharasan favourably.

In the last two weeks, the Madras high court has come to the rescue of three octogenarian freedom fighters who were denied their pension and were made to run from pillar to post for relief.

On July 31, Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar flayed officials for adopting hyper-technical’ approach while processing the pension claims of freedom fighters and ordered them to extend pension to 82-year-old A Francis, after a 14-year-long legal battle.

On August 11, the same judge again criticised officials when a similar case, of 86-year-old freedom fighter HR Balaraman, came up. He was denied pension for seven years owing to a minor difference in his date of birth.




Insurance firm, automaker, told to pay up

TNN 15 August 2009, 02:15am IST

CHANDIGARH: UT consumer forum has directed ICICI Lombard Motor Insurance Company, Skoda Auto India, and Sidak Automobile to pay Rs 2.23 lakh for an irreparably damaged vehicle, Rs 50,000 as compensation for adopting unfair trade practices and Rs 500 as counsel fee to Panchkula-resident Deepak Narang, 34.

Narang had purchased a Skoda car in April 2007, which was fitted with airbags. He paid Rs 11.72 lakh for it and got the car insured. He had stated in his complaint that the car met with an accident in February 2008, when he was trying to avoid hitting a stray animal.

Narang said he and his son were injured, while the airbags of the car failed to function.

He had claimed that the insurance company paid him just Rs 5.20 lakh against the insured value of Rs 11.13 lakh, that was to be paid when the car was irreparably damaged.

In its written reply, ICICI Lombard pleaded that Narang opted for settlement in net salvage basis (i.e. payment for repairs) in his insurance claim. He accepted the claim amount as full and final without raising any dispute, the company had stated.

Skoda Auto India Private Limited and Sidak Automobile Private Limited had filed separate written replies wherein they pleaded that the accident was caused due to Narang’s rash and negligent driving for which they were not responsible.

The forum accepted Narang’s complaint and told the firms to pay up.





Parag murder case: Panel seeks CM help for justice

TNN 15 August 2009, 03:07am IST

GUWAHATI: A steering committee formed against the murder of journalist and human rights activist Parag Kumar Das on Friday requested chief minister Tarun Gogoi to ask the CBI to make an appeal in Guwahati High Court and furnish evidence.

On July 28, the Kamrup district and sessions judge acquitted Mridul Phukan, the lone surviving accused in the case, due to lack of sufficient evidences. The CBI, probing the case, drew flak from many quarters for poor investigation. Phukan is a surrendered Ulfa militant.

Four unidentified gunmen had killed Parag Das on May 17, 1996, at the city’s Rajgarh Road while he was taking his son back from school. In a memorandum submitted to the chief minister, the committee said Das’s family was eager to move the high court. But, it couldn’t do so as the CBI was yet to file an appeal petition at the HC which is a must.

“CBI’s failure in furnishing evidence against Mridul Phukan was evident in the judgment of the sessions court. Now, the family of Das is eager to move the high court. But for that, the CBI must file an appeal petition within 60-days from the day of judgement,” read the memorandum.

Journalist Action Committee (JAC), an umbrella organization of scribes in the state, has also sought Gogoi help for justice in the Parag Das murder case. The JAC, in a memorandum submitted to the chief minister, urged him to take steps for probing the murder of 22 journalists in the state in the last 18 years.




Court breather for Bengali film

TNN 15 August 2009, 03:16am IST

KOLKATA: There was some respite for Sri Venkatesh Films producers of the Bengali film Poran Jay Joliya Re on Friday, with the high court staying a ban on its screening till Monday.

The producers, however, cannot create third party rights or release the film abroad in the meantime. The film can’t be shown on cable channels or satellite television till the issue is sorted out by the court.

Box office collections of the film will also have to be deposited with special officers. These special officers are the advocates for Sri Venkatesh Films and Bollywood producer Vipul Shah who had moved the court accusing the production house from Bengal of copyright infringement.

Shah had claimed that the makers of Poran Jay Joliya Re had plagiarised his Bollywood flick Namastey London.

Justice Nadira Patherya who watched both films before arriving at the conclusion that Sri Venkatesh Films was guilty. The production house later appealed against this order.





Now, pay less for court documents

Vaivasvat Venkat, TNN 14 August 2009, 10:06pm IST

LUDHIANA: In a decision that will lessen the burden on the pocket of advocates and litigants, lawyers will be able to get uncertified copies of all documents on record, as per the orders and rules of the high court, at Rs 1 per page.

An order in this regard has been passed by district and sessions judge GK Rai and will be applicable from the Ludhiana district courts to the sub-division in Khanna, Jagraon and Samrala.

According to information, Rai has directed all copy clerks, attached with each additional district and sessions judge along with the copy clerk of his court, to supply unattested copies of all documents on record in schedule referred to in Rule 11 of Chapter 17 of the High Court Rules and Orders Volume 4. He has also directed the copying agencies of subordinate courts to depute at least two copyists for the purpose of supplying copies to advocates.

Hailing the move, advocate Ashok Mittal, who claims to have initiated the issue, said, “This is a fruitful step not only for advocates but also for clients. I filed a complaint with the Chief Justice, wherein I informed how private people employed by clerks in the courts illegally, were overcharging people for providing uncertified copies of documents from advocates and litigants.”

Echoing a similar view, advocate Ranjodh Singh Gill, said, “For two odd pages of an FIR, we had to spend Rs 100 to 300. Now, we will get documents at Rs 1 per page.”

Meanwhile, litigants are also happy due to the decision. “It’s not the lawyer but the client, who pays the amount. This has come as a major relief to us,” said Manpreet Singh.






Court extends remand of six accused in Sena corporator’s murder bid

Asadullah Hanfi , TNN 15 August 2009, 03:15am IST

Trouble for the six accused arrested in connection with the failed bid on the life of Rajan Kine, a Shiv Sena corporator of the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has ceased to end even after the end of their eight days of police custody. The Thane district and sessions court on Friday extended the police remand of the six accused by four days to facilitate police investigations.

The accused including Ramesh Patil were produced the court on Friday afternoon after the end of their eight days of police remand period. The prosecutions sought extension in their police remand on the grounds that three accomplices of the detained accused including an unidentified one were still at large and weapons used in botched bid were yet to be recovered. The prosecution claimed that the police custody of the accused was needed to proceed with the investigations.

The defense counsels however argued that the six had spent eight days in police custody and as such the police had sufficient time to investigate the matter. The defence prayed before the court to end the police custody of the accused. The court however ruled in favour of the prosecution and the accused were sent to police detention till Thursday.

On the other hand the Sena corporator from Mumbra has moved the court of sessions’ Thane against the six arrested accused as well as their accomplices seeking to slap charges of the deadly Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) against them. The litigation was filed before the court on Thursday and the court has kept hearing on the petition on Monday. The litigant claimed that the accused had previous criminal records and used to function as an organized gang.

Munir Ahmed, counsel for the applicant informed Thane Plus that he has requested the court to direct the Commissioner of Police (CP), Thane to investigate the complaint as an organized crime and sanction slapping sections of MCOCA on the six accused as well as their absconding accomplices. “Under section 9 (1) of the act it is mandatory for the court to direct the case for investigation to CP, Thane”, he said. The counsel also claimed that an officer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) is to investigate the matter at the instance of the CP.

It may be noted that the Mumbra police had arrested the six persons on Tuesday on charges of criminal conspiracy to murder the Sena corporator. The police claimed that the accused had hatched a plot to kill Kine on July 19 when he wsas to visit the Shanker Mandir Temple in Mumbra at night for prayers. Ramesh Patil is a NCP leader and had contested the TMc polls of February 2007 on a NCP ticket against Kine from the Anand Koliwada municipal ward.

The police claimed to have recovered two firearms including a country made revolver and an imported revolver along with six live rounds of ammunitions from the possession of the accused. An air gun, a car and a motorcycle without registration number plate was also recovered from the possession of the accused. All the six accused have previous criminal records.




Cong defends brand, says Nehru, Indira, Rajiv are national icons

TNN 15 August 2009, 02:20am IST

NEW DELHI: In a strong rebuttal of the BSP accusation that Congress had projected its brand by naming hundreds of government programmes after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, the party on Friday said that these stalwarts were national icons by their own right.

“Leaders like Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi belonged not only to the Congress party but to the entire nation; they are idolised by the people,” party general secretary Digvijay Singh said.

Reacting sharply to the BSP response to an Election Commission notice about the elephant statues — the party’s poll symbol — all around Uttar Pradesh, Singh said there was no denying the fact that the ruling party in the state had installed hundreds of the such statues to promote its election symbol.

“The two are two different things — while the elephant is the BSP poll symbol the former prime ministers are part of the nation’s portrait gallery,” he said.

“Hundreds of elephant statues in no way can be installed in parks all over the state,” Singh said.

He was critical of the fact that the statues of BSP founder Kanshi Ram and CM Mayawati were being raised at a huge cost by the UP government. “This is the first instance of the statues of a living person being installed,” Singh said.




Pak Supreme Court may remit Sarabjit’s death sentence: Lawyer

PTI 14 August 2009, 10:36pm IST

AMRITSAR: Supreme Court of Pakistan may remit the death sentence of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh to life imprisonment on humanitarian ground, advocate Owais Sheikh fighting the case of Singh on Friday said.

Talking to media persons here during his visit to the city of Golden Temple, Sheikh said that Supreme Court of Pakistan may take soft views in Sarabjit’s case, since Singh had already spent 19 years behind bars.

Sheikh said that recently Pakistan’s Supreme Court in its observation had said that prisoners, who were awarded death sentence and had already underwent more than 18 years and more, death sentence could be remitted to life imprisonment.

Singh’s lawyer said that Islam also preaches clemency rather than severe punishment and added that initially Sarabjit’s name was not mentioned in the FIR and his name was included in the FIR later on later to implicate him in a false case.





Removal of PSC members need not follow rule for govt employees: SC

TNN 15 August 2009, 02:12am IST

NEW DELHI: Applying the rule — higher the post, harsher the standards of scrutiny — the Supreme Court has okayed the suspension and removal of the chairman and eight members of the Haryana Public Service Commission and rejected their plea against it.

The main grievance of the PSC members was that the governor did not follow the established rules applicable to government servants in the matter relating to their suspension and removal.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal was unanimous in its opinion that PSCs being a creation of the Constitution, its members could not be placed on a par with government employees for following statutory rules regarding suspension and removal.

“The principles of service law that are ordinarily applicable in instances of dismissal of government employees cannot be extended to the proceedings for the removal and suspension of the members of the said Commissions,” the Bench said.

Writing the judgment for the Bench, the CJI said: “Hence, we are of the opinion that en bloc suspension of the eitht members and chairman of the Haryana PSC by the governor by an order of August 9, 2008 under Article 317(2) of the Constitution and the subsequent notification are valid and not liable to be quashed.”

The importance of the PSC to the general public and its status under the Constitution weighed heavy in the mind of the SC to treat PSC members and its chairman as a class separate from government employees.

“For the efficient functioning of a democracy, it is imperative that the PSCs are manned by people of the highest skill and irreproachable integrity, so that the selections to various public posts can be immunized from all sorts of extraneous factors like political pressure or personal favouritism and are made solely on consideration of merit,” the Bench said.




After 21 years, spoiled curd leads to acquittal in SC

TNN 15 August 2009, 02:13am IST

NEW DELHI: This Supreme Court judgment typifies the manner investigations and authorities act under an important law — Prevention of Food Aduleration (PFA) Act — enacted to protect consumers from being shortchanged by shopkeepers and restaurant owners with stale or spurious food.

It was a case of adulterated curd, samples of which were seized from an Ahmedabad shop by officers on April 8, 1988 who filed a complaint against the shop owner Girishbhai Dahyabhai Shah. Under the law, the officers were to keep two samples — one for the public analyst and the second for the accused to get it tested from an independent laboratory, if he so wished.

After the public analyst opined that the curd was adulterated, the accused sought, as per law, within 10 days a portion of the second sample for testing it in the Central Food Laboratory.

Shah applied for the second sample on May 4, 1988. But, it was made available to him only on July 17, 1989, that is after 15 months of the first sample being tested by the public analyst.

It’s well known that curd retains its properties, even under the most careful preservation formula available in India, for a very short period. Grabbing this gaping mistake on the part of the officers under PFA to supply the second sample after a yawning lapse of time, Shah moved the Gujarat High Court for quashing of the complaint.

But, the HC without taking into account the legitimate contention of the petitioner, dismissed his plea for quashing of the case against him. He moved the Supreme Court challenging the HC’s decision.

A Bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph said in this case the appellant was prevented from applying for analysis of the second sample before July 17, 1989, by which time the second sample of curd had deteriorated and was not capable of being analysed.

“In that view of the matter, we are unable to sustain the judgment of the HC and we also see no reason to continue with the proceedings which have lasted for more than 20 years in the absence of any valid and reliable report with regard to the second sample,” it said.




NTPC faces heat over RIL case delay

Sanjay Dutta, TNN 15 August 2009, 12:38am IST

NEW DELHI: Independent directors on the board of state-run generation utility NTPC have put the management on the mat over delay in moving the Supreme Court to protect future gas supplies from the Andhra offhsore field developed by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd.

Sources said at Thursday’s board meeting, questions were raised why NTPC was taking time to move the SC in relation to two separate cases to safeguard fuel supply despite advice from the attorney-general and the solicitor-general. The oil ministry’s stand on gas price has intertwined NTPC’s case with RIL with another suit between RIL and Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources Ltd.

NTPC chairman R S Sharma was unavailable for his response. A company spokesperson declined comment. The ire of independent directors stems from a sense of liability in case NTPC loses either gas or has to pay a price higher than it secured through a global bid in 2004, due to the outcomes of the cases. Both scenarios will cost NTPC dear.

NTPC’s predicament arises from the oil ministry’s stand in the RIL-RNRL case that only the Centre can decide the sale and price of gas. A ministerial panel had set the Andhra offshore gas price at $4.2 per unit, which is 44% higher than the NTPC bid price. If this is upheld in the RIL-RNRL case, government’s top law officers feel, RIL can use it to its benefit in the NTPC case.

NTPC is battling RIL in the Bombay High Court over a contract for 12 mcmd (million cubic metres per day) of gas at $2.34 per unit price to its capacity expansion projects of Kawas and Gandhar units. Broadly, the dispute is over whether a letter of intent is an agreement or not. After winning the tender, RIL had given the LoI but subsequently differences cropped over NTPC’s condition of seeking unlimited liability.

In the other case, RNRL wants RIL to supply 28 mcmd gas at the price quoted to NTPC, in line with the terms of their demerger agreement. RIL’s stand is that it cannot do so without the government approving both the sale and the price. RIL has used this argument for seeking to change its stand in the NTPC case through “chamber summons”, allowed by the high court.

Suggesting that NTPC should appeal SC against RIL’s move “without any loss of time”, attorney-general G E Vahanvati says, “It is indeed strange that RIL should place this burden (of inability to fulfil tender commitments) on the Union of India as having taken away the foundational basis of a very carefully structured bid which must have been undertaken with the concurrence of the administrative ministry…”




Court bars MS from selling ‘Word’ in US

PTI 15 August 2009, 12:30am IST

NEW YORK: An American court has asked Microsoft to pay damages worth $290 million to Canadian entity i4i for patent infringement related to Microsoft Word and has restrained the software giant from selling the product in the United States.

The litigation is related to patent infringement of Extensible Markup Language (XML) used in Microsoft Word. Canada-based technology firm i4i claimed that it had the patent for custom XML’ used in Word.

“The final judgement is an award in excess of $290 million and includes a permanent injunction against Microsoft Corporation for custom XML in Word 2003 and Word 2007,” i4i said in a statement. An XML is a mark-up language XML, which offers editing capabilities and formatting of text, among others.

The verdict on the case was given by the US district court for the eastern district of Texas. This follows a decision by the jury in May which said Microsoft infringed on the patent.

Moreover, the court has restrained Microsoft from “selling, offering to sell and/or importing in or into the US any infringing and future Word products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX or .DOCM file containing custom XML,” the statement said.

The restrain would be effective after 60 days of the verdict, which was given on August 11. Microsoft said that it was disappointed with the verdict and would appeal against the same. “We are disappointed by the court’s ruling. We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We will appeal the verdict,” Microsoft spokesperson Kevin Kurtz said.

Meanwhile, Michel Vulpe who is the founder of i4i said the company was “very pleased with the terms of the final judgment”.

“The financial award due to i4i is now over $290 million and a permanent injunction has also been issued against Microsoft… We feel vindicated with the result,” i4i founder Vulpe noted.




Wanted, prisoners for Cherlapally jail

SUSHIL RAO, TNN 15 August 2009, 01:40am IST

HYDERABAD: The open air jail at Cherlapally is breathing easy, now that the state government has decided to postpone the release, on August 15, of life convicts in the state.

If the state government had not done so, the prison faced hard times with 130 out of its 195 prisoners set to be released. More than the prisoners who need the freedom of the open air jail, it is the 120-acre jail premises which needs men to take care of it!

Incidentally, the government has deferred its decision to grant special remission to life convicts in the light of a petition pending in the Supreme Court (SC). A PIL had been filed in the SC against the release of dangerous criminals. The SC had put off a hearing on the matter to August 24, so convicted prisoners in the state are likely to be released only after that.

Earlier, Cherlapally prison authorities had shortlisted 130 convicts from the prison, who met the criteria as per a GO, for release. The problem for the open jail is that if a majority of prisoners are released, the jail will fall short of hands to work in its vegetable garden which is spread over nearly 15-20 acres. In addition, a mango orchard on another 20 acres has to be maintained. Men are also needed to work in the dairy farm.

Vegetables and milk from the jail meets not only its own requirements, but are also supplied to other jails in the city.

Often prisoners with good behaviour are transferred to the open air jail when the authorities are sure that they will not escape. Since the open air jail would need men for various prison duties, officials began the process of selecting some from among prisoners to be sent to Cherlapally. Yet, though the open air jail provides freedom and little supervision, not every prisoner who is offered the option of going there takes it up, mostly because one would have to work hard there.

Though 130 ‘vacancies’ would have arisen had the lifers been released, so far only 79 names have been shortlisted to be transferred to the open air jail, prison sources said.

Meanwhile prisoners of both the open air jail and also the central prison at Cherlapally were disappointed on learning about the postponement of their release. At the Central Prison, the deferment of the release has cast a shadow on the games and sport competitions that have got underway in connection with the Independence Day celebrations.
Competitions in volleyball, shuttle, shuttle badminton, chess and running are being organised. “This was the fifth time that the prisoners release has been postponed, so they are dejected,” one jail official said.

Now, given that there is no strict supervision or security at the jail, the ‘open’ inmates will not find it difficult to make their escape, if they want to.




Citizens’second freedom struggle

Vaivasvat Venkat, TNN 14 August 2009, 10:03pm IST

LUDHIANA: Some enlightened citizens are fighting a ‘second freedom struggle’- one which gives them an opportunity to celebrate their relentless fight against corrupt systems and practices, hindering the country’s growth and development.

The city has some valiant fighters, who have not bowed down before negative forces. Using tools like the Right to Information Act (RTI) or Public Interest Litigations (PIL), these residents keep the spirit of freedom alive.

One among them is 40-year-old Hitender Jain. An architect by profession, he is part of an NGO — Resurgence India – and has challenged the rampant corrupt and unconstitutional practices for the welfare of people using RTI Act and PIL.

Jain says, “My efforts exposed how the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund was being misused for other purposes other than the designated ones. I have finally got a guideline for the same from the court.”

Jain also took up the issue of misuse of funds of the Red Cross by the bureaucracy. His efforts bore fruit and the Rs 1.94 crore, that included funds collected for Kargil and tsunami victims, which was not sent, has finally been deposited with the government.

Jatinder Modgil, the country’s first transporter to start a CNG bus, has opposed the alleged diesel mafias’ threats in Delhi. Modgil, who is in his late fifties, recently got the interim court orders for starting CNG services in the state. Modgil collected the entire data of air pollution caused from transport vehicles in the city, state and Delhi. Following this, he approached the court, which passed the interim order and gave directions that no new vehicles, running on diesel, should be registered at Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar and Chandigarh.

Likewise, retired IFS officer SS Channa, another citizen has done the city proud. After retiring in 1990, Channa settled in Sarabha Nagar, where he found that the park in front of his house was in a shambles despite the area being a posh locality.

After the authorities failed to act, he moved the high court and got suitable directions. Though his battle is still on, it would not be an aberration to say that most of the beautiful parks in the city, revived by the park management committees, are a result of Channa’s endeavour.





Govt treating our suggestions casually, says judiciary–says-judiciary


New Delhi, Aug 14 (PTI) The judiciary has expressed concern over the “casual manner” in which successive Governments had dealt with various recommendations made by it for streamlining justice delivery system in the country.

At a two-day conference of Chief Justices of High Courts, inaugurated by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan here today, judicial officers regretted that the annual event has become a “mere ritual as no concrete follow-up efforts for complying with the recommendations are being made by the Government”.

“The decisions taken by the Heads of Judiciary should not be dealt with in a casual manner and needs to be considered at the highest level.





PM set to raise assets law, corruption in judiciary

Maneesh Chhibber Posted: Saturday , Aug 15, 2009 at 0412 hrs New Delhi:

On Sunday, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses a conference of chief ministers and chief justices at Vigyan Bhawan, he is expected to praise the judiciary for performing its job credibly. However, and more importantly, in line with his government’s avowed policy to reform the judiciary amid growing public concern, the Prime Minister is also set to raise the issue of corruption in judiciary.

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Law Minister Veerappa Moily too will be present at the conference.

Sources told The Indian Express that the PM’s speech is also expected to refer to his government’s proposal to bring a law to make it mandatory for judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts to declare their assets along with those of their kin on a yearly basis.

“While the Prime Minister is a firm believer in the independence of the judiciary, he feels that growing reports in the media about instances of corruption in the higher judiciary only tarnish its image,” said a source.

It is learnt that the PM would also inform the judiciary about the consensus among all political parties that judicial reforms be effected in a substantial way. On this, he could also refer to the address of President Pratibha Patil to the joint session of Parliament on June 4, in which she said a roadmap for judicial reforms would be finalised in six months’ time.

Meanwhile, while there was no official information about what happened at the first day’s session of the two-day conference of chief justices of high courts on Friday, which remained out of bounds for the media, it is learnt that the general feeling was that many state governments had failed to initiate any proper follow-up action to implement the recommendations made at previous conferences of chief justices.

Referring to a large number of vacancies in subordinate judiciary — as against a sanctioned strength of 16,685 judges (subordinate judiciary), there were only 13,556 judicial officers, with 3,129 posts unfulfilled as on December 31, 2008 — the conference felt state governments should not allow their financial constraints to come in the way of increaseing the number of judges.

Steps should be taken to ensure all vacancies are filled at the earliest, it was said. The judiciary expressed concern over the “meagre” financial allocation for development of the infrastructure, with some CJs also saying that many proposals were rejected only due to lack of adequate funds.





CJI to discuss resolution of pending cases

ANI Posted: Friday , Aug 14, 2009 at 1100 hrs New Delhi:

A two-day annual conference of Chief Justices of various High Courts will begin in Delhi from Friday.

The meeting will be presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan. Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice S.H. Kapadia, the other two senior-most apex court judges will also attend.

Issues like expediting the disposal of cases, to improve the justice delivery system and demand for more budgetary allocation for the judiciary will figure prominently at the meet.

According to an agenda note, at the end of 2008, the arrears of civil and criminal cases pending disposal in the various High Courts were 38,74,090. Out of which, 31,03,352 are civil and 7,70,738 criminal cases.

In subordinate courts, the total pendency at the end of 2008 was 2,64,09011. Out of which, 1,88,69,163 are criminal and 75,39,848 civil cases.

Other issues like the progress made in setting up of evening/morning courts, strengthening of vigilance cells; computerisation of courts, holding of courts in jail by every Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or Chief Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate of the area on regular basis to take up cases of undertrial prisoners and to consider increasing the ratio of appointments to High Courts from among judicial officers to 50 per cent of the Judges” strength of the High Court concerned instead of the present one third are expected to be discussed.

The conference will culminate with a meeting of chief justices and chief ministers.






Lay pipeline from Kajauli to Mohali, councillor files PIL–councillor-files-PIL/501946

Express News Service Posted: Friday , Aug 14, 2009 at 0322 hrs Chandigarh:

With an aim to save Mohali from water scarcity in the coming days, municipal councillor Kuljeet Singh Bedi filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday. He is demanding the execution of the fifth and sixth phase pipeline from Kajauli water works (near Morinda), installation of adequate number of tubewells and providing hotlines to various water works at Mohali on a priority basis.

After the preliminary hearing, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, issued notices to the Union government through Secretary Urban Development, Punjab, for October 8. The petitioner submitted that about 13 Million Gallon Water per day (MGD) is being supplied to Mohali — 10 MGD from the Kajauli canal and 3 MGD from tubewells. The actual requirement, however, is about 28 MGD for which execution of the fifth pipeline from Kajauli is essential. The project was initiated by the UT Administration under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission.

The PIL stressed on the immediate installation of about 40 tubewells in Mohali as per the requisition submitted by Water Supply and Sanitation Department to the Mohali Municipal Council. The petitioner further sought directions to the Punjab State Electricity Board to provide hotlines to the water works pumping system in Sector 57 and Phase 10 to ensure uninterrupted water supply.





3 IAS officers, 12 others face charges in land allotment case


August 13th, 2009

NOIDA – A first information report was lodged against 15 officials of the Noida administration, including three Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers, in a land allotment case, police said Thursday.

The complaint was lodged by Mukesh Srivastava, manager of industrial development, in the Noida authority late Wednesday.

In the complaint, Srivastava said that the IAS officers – Rakesh Bahadur, Sanjiv Saran, K. Ravendra Naik, Deo Dutt (retired) allotted 25 commercial plots to hotels at rates lower than the market rates. Srivastava alleged that because of the deals, the Noida authority incurred a loss of about Rs.4721 crore in 2006.

The other officers who have been named in the FIR are C.P. Singh, S.C. Sangal, V.K. Jain, V. Kumar, L.K. Gupta, D.V. Malik and L.K. Jha, B.A. Dev, S.K. Jaman, S.K. Kulshreshtha and Jaiprakash.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed against these allotments in the Allahabad High Court.

After the PIL, the state government set up a departmental inquiry and ordered the registration of a criminal case.

“The officers have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. The investigation is on in the crime committed between March 5, 2006, to Nov 10, 2006,” Additional Director General (Western Zone) A.K. Jain said.





HC lifts stay on n-plant land: power for millions–power-for-millions/502032

Mohan Kumar Posted: Friday , Aug 14, 2009 at 0447 hrs Mumbai:

Agreeing with the government that a new nuclear power plant in the Konkan region is in public interest as it would supply electricity to millions, the Bombay High Court today lifted its stay on land acquisition for the project and dismissed a petition opposing it.

The court had stopped land acquisition for the NPCIL project in Jaitapur — the first to be built after the India-US nuclear deal — in the last week of June on a petition by Bhikaji Waghdhare and four others who said the plant would harm the Konkan ecology and could lead to accidents as the area falls under seismic zone 4.

But the bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and Amjad Sayed ruled: “The Jaitapur nuclear power project cannot be stalled on any grounds… the present nuclear power project stands on the same footing or perhaps on a higher footing as it is going to supply power to millions of people. The project brooks no further delay.”





Probe `staged’ encounter case: HC to Prasanna

S Ahmed Ali, TNN 14 August 2009, 01:49am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday directed deputy commissioner of police KMM Prasanna to probe the allegations that Navi Mumbai resident Ramnarayan Gupta was shot dead by cops in a fake encounter. The court has directed Prasanna to submit his first report in four weeks.

The high court has asked Prasanna to form a team of officers of his choice for the investigation. Stating that Ramnarayan’s brother Ramprasad Gupta’s statement should be treated as an FIR, the court has also suggested that, if required, Prasanna should conduct a lie-detector test and brain mapping of the accused policemen.

Prasanna is currently waiting a posting.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Ramprasad against what he alleged was a staged killing and not a genuine encounter. Gupta said he had sent a telegram to former police commissioner A N Roy soon after the police picked up his brother. The police had claimed that Ramnarayan was a Chhota Rajan gang member and on 11 November, 2006, when they had ordered him to surrender, he fired at them. The police shot back in retaliation, killing Ramnarayan on the spot. The encounter took place at Versova, under the supervision of Pradeep Suryavanshi, currently senior inspector at MIDC police station.

A division bench, headed by Justice B H Marlapalle, has directed the Mumbai Police to register a fresh FIR against the officers responsible for the incident. The court directed a fresh probe based on the findings of magistrate RAK Shaikh who had submitted a report in 2007, saying the encounter appeared to be fake.

Ramprasad said, “We know that no one can bring my dead brother back. But I want to take the police to task for killing him.”

Gupta’s lawyer, Shyam Marwadi, said, “As of now, we have given a list of policemen involved. We will soon provide the names of three more policemen, including an encounter specialist and a controversial inspector, who is now attached with the Navi Mumbai police.”




No fresh case to be registered against Gupta till Aug 24: HC

Express News Service

Posted: Aug 14, 2009 at 0430 hrs IST

Ludhiana In a temporary sigh of relief for Chetan Gupta, co-accused in the multi-crore Ludhiana City Centre scam, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the Punjab Police not to arrest him in any fresh case till August 24.

In the eventuality of any fresh case being registered against Gupta before August 24, the wing concerned of the Punjab Police will issue a prior notice of three days before arresting him to enable him to seek legal recourse.

Meanwhile, the High Court also directed Gupta to co-operate in the investigations in the Ludhiana City Centre scam case. Passing the orders, a Division Bench comprising Justice M M Kumar and Justice Jaswant Singh asked Gupta to appear before Investigating Officer Shiv Kumar, who is the senior superintendent of police, Patiala Vigilance Bureau, from August 17 to August 21. Gupta will remain present from 9 am to 5 pm, the court ordered.

The orders were passed during the hearing of a petition filed by Gupta, who had raised apprehensions over his arrest and implication in false cases by the Punjab Police owing to his close association with former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Gupta had alleged that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Captain Amarinder Singh had an old political rivalry due to which he was being targeted. On the other hand, the counsel for the Punjab Vigilance Bureau countered Gupta’s claim, submitting that the Ludhiana City Centre scam was pending since June 2008 and Gupta was trying to escape from investigations. The counsel also stated that despite several notices and directions of the High Court to co-operate in the investigations, Gupta had refused to do so. The case will come up for hearing again on August 24.







HC reserves order on firm’s bidding

TNN 14 August 2009, 01:45am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday heard a petition filed by IL&FS, one of the private developers whose bid for the Rs 813-crore Mantralaya redevelopment plan was rejected as “late”.

A bench, headed by the Chief Justice, while reserving its judgment on the petition seeking directions to the state to treat the bid on merit, wondered why every developer always submitted their tender documents at the last minute. “Why don’t you do something about it?” the CJ asked the state in general.

The ambitious Mantralaya project aims at building five 30-storeyed skyscrapers in the vicinity and a multi-storeyed underground parking, which has only two bids so far, both of which were submitted barely five minutes before the deadline. The IL&FS bid was said to be two minutes late and rejected but the real estate firm said it was submitted three minutes before the deadline.

D B Realty counsel Iqbal Chagla submitted that his client had not objected to the other bidder, Indiabulls, as it was on time and so IL&FS’s rejection was only on the grounds of delay and there was no enmity involved.




Identify, prosecute quacks, HC tells UT, states–prosecute-quacks–HC-tells-UT–states/501934

Express News Service Posted: Friday , Aug 14, 2009 at 0312 hrs Chandigarh:

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the states of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory (UT) Chandigarh to identify and prosecute quacks.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Kanwaljit Singh passed the directions asking the officials concerned to issue either a special or general order for authorising civil surgeons to file a complaint against quacks, who “take innocent and gullible people for a ride”.

The governments have also been directed to authorise drug inspectors or other gazetted officers in their respective districts to file complaints against quacks for offences punishable under Section 15(3) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.

The HC has also asked the governments to ensure that civil surgeons verify the registration details and qualification of medical practitioners in their respective districts.

The orders were passed in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Dr Barinder Singh.

The petitioner had brought into focus the menace of self-styled doctors and quacks practising in the region. Quoting the petition, the court remarked that these self-styled doctors are neither registered as medical

|practitioners under the Indian Medical Act 1956, nor do they possess a recognised degree.





For non-compliance of orders, HC issues bailable warrant against PEC professor

Express News Service Posted: Friday , Aug 14, 2009 at 0316 hrs chandigarh:

Calling it a case of defying court orders, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday issued bailable warrant against Siby John, Head of the Civil department of Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Chandigarh, on account of his not filing an affidavit despite repeated court directions.

The professor had initially been directed to file an affidavit on account of allegedly denying permission to a student from appearing in the mid-semester exams. After the professor refused to file the affidavit, the court had asked him to appear in person, an order he failed to comply with.

The court has now directed the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Chandigarh, to ensure the execution of the warrant, failing which the SSP has been directed to appear in court on August 18.

The directions were passed on a petition filed by Sekhar Sharma, a student of PEC.

In his petition, Sharma demanded quashing of the PEC Senate’s decision that prohibits any student caught using unfair means in exams from completing the course during the regular semester.

The Senate had also decided not to allow the student to register for the same course during the summer term. The petitioner had sought directions to PEC authorities to register him for the summer term session 2009 in the subject of environment engineering.

The petitioner averred that during an examination on December 2, 2008, John forced him to write on the answer-sheet that some incriminating material was found written on his left palm. He was later given Grade F (fail) and debarred from joining the summer session. In a similar case, alleged the petitioner, two other students were not allowed to join the summer session.

During the last hearing, the High Court had asked PEC authorities to file their reply but on Thursday, the UT counsel informed the court that John has refused to file his affidavit and instead placed a note.

“Since the petitioner (Sharma) has not leveled any personal allegations against me and the issues which are required to be placed before the court are not related to me, the institute may file an affidavit, as desired by the court, as per bylaws of PEC (deemed university) under which I am officiating as Head (Civil Engineering),” reads the note written by John.





Water scarcity: HC issues motion notice to Centre, UT, Punjab

TNN 14 August 2009, 02:36am IST

CHANDIGARH: In the matter pertaining to water scarcity in Mohali, the divison bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia issued a notice of motion to the Union of India, the state of Punjab and Chandigarh administration for October 8 on the public interest litigation filed by Mohali councillor Kuljeet Singh Bedi.

The petitioner had sought execution of 5th and 6th phase pipeline from Kajauli water works (near Morinda) and installation of adequate number of tubewells in Mohali.

Contending that presently about 13 million gallon water per day (MGD) – 10 MGD from Kajauli canal and 3 MGD from tubewells – is being supplied to Mohali, Bedi said the actual requirement is about 28 MGD.

To bridge this gap between demand and supply, he revealed that the execution of 5th pipeline from Kajauli is essential, from where an additional 40 MGD water would be fetched.

Out of this, 10 MGD will go to Mohali on the basis of water sharing formula between UT and Mohali.

The project has to be initiated by the UT Administration under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission – a venture of the Centre.

Petitition stated that about 40 tubewells are required to be installed in Mohali immediately based on the requisition submitted by the Punjab government’s water supply and sanitation department to the municipal council.

In another development, Bedi had sought directions to the Punjab State Electricity board to provide hotlines to the water works pumping system situated in sector-57 and phase 10 so as to ensure uninterrupted water supply in the eventuality of power cuts in the state.




HC slams ESIC officials for carelessness


New Delhi, Aug 13 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today slammed the Employees State Insurance Corporation(ESIC) for the “careless attitude” of its officials for not verifying the documents properly before filing appeal in courts relating to insurance claim cases.

Slapping a cost of Rs 25,000 on ESIC, a Public Sector Undertaking, Justice V B Gupta directed the Chairman of the Corporation to issue guidelines to its legal officials for proper scrutiny of the documents in this regard.

“The officials work in a mechanical manner and give their opinion as fit for appeal in every matter. These officials have scant regard for the public exchequer as well as the court’s time,” Justice Gupta observed in a judgment.





HC notice on Bihar’s AIIMS

News Desk – August 14, 2009

PATNA — A division bench of the Patna High Court comprising Justice SK Katriar and Justice Jyoti Saran on Wednesday asked the Central government counsel to submit a report regarding tenders for construction of the super speciality hospital, Jai Prakash Narayan All India Institute of Medical Sciences (JPNAIIMS).

The court adjourned the hearing of the PIL of Council for Protection of Public Rights Welfare (CPPRW) to September 4.

Complaining about the dilly-dallying attitude of the centre, the petitioner CPPRW, referred to earlier records which revealed that on May 15, 2006 the estimated expenditure was Rs 332 crore, which was hiked to Rs 533.15 crore on February 25, 2009, but till date the actual construction work had not commenced.

Blaming the Union as well as the Bihar government for non-commencement of the construction work even five years after the foundation stone for the project was laid, the counsel for CPPRW, said the estimate for the construction had been hiked by over 200 crore in last three years. It was pleaded that accountability should be fixed on the officials responsible for the delay and loss of public money.

The then Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had laid the foundation stone of the prestigious medical institute at Phulwari Sharif in Bihar on Jan 3, 2004 and Rs 300 crore was allotted for the speedy completion of the project.

The proposed AIIMS in Patna was part of the central government project envisaging setting up AIIMS-like institutes in Patna (Bihar), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Jodhpur (Rajasthan) and Rishikesh (Uttarakhand).






BCCI asks former CJI’s opinion

Mumbai: The BCCI has approached Adarsh Sein Anand, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India and Goolam Vahanvaty, Attorney General of India on issues it has raised with ICC with regard to the ICC Anti-Dope Code 2009.

The BCCI has asked their opinion on (1) whether the obligations to disclose whereabouts in the ICC Anti-Doping Code (2009) would violate fundamental rights under the Indian Constitution if they were obligations imposed by the Indian State and (2) if the said whereabouts clause were part of a contract between two contracting parties in India, would it be unreasonable or bad as being against the public policy of India?





&K High Court confirms manipulation

Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday confirmed that the DNA samples of the two Shopian women, who were allegedly raped and murdered, appeared to have been manipulated.

During a scheduled hearing of a public interest litigation petition filed by the Kashmir Bar Association, Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir were briefed on the findings of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) by Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Kashmir zone Farooq Ahmad.

After studying the CFSL report, the Chief Justice said the DNA makeup of the vaginal swabs did not match with that extracted from the blood and viscera of the victims. He appealed to the parties to the case to “show light” on the way forward. The case will now be heard on August 18.





High court stays conviction of former NALCO boss


Cuttack, Aug 12 (PTI) The Orissa High Court has stayed the conviction and sentence of former chairman and managing director of the public sector aluminium giant NALCO S K Tamotia in a disproportionate assets case.

A special CBI court in February this year had awarded the technocrat three years simple imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 in a disproportionate assets case under Prevention of Corruption Act.

Terming the lower court’s verdict as “erroneous”, Justice Indrajit Mohanty in his order observed, “I am of the considered view that this is an exceptional case in which order of stay of conviction should be passed taking into consideration the ramification of the facts.”

Justice Mohanty also justified the exercise of authority vested under Section 389 (1) of the CrPC.





HC stays order on closure of computer centres

Press Trust of India , Express News Service Posted: Thursday , Aug 13, 2009 at 0331 hrs Kolkata:

A division Bench headed by Chief Justice S S Nijjar on Wednesday passed an order staying the order of a single bench which stopped functioning of the computer training centres affiliated to the state Youth Welfare Department.

Now, about 200 computer centres would function normally, according to an order passed by the division bench on Wednesday.

Ranjit Nandi and 17 others, owners of computer centres in various districts, filed a writ petition on Tuesday, challenging the order passed on August 4. Justice Sanjib Banerjee of the Calcutta High Court had directed that Youth Computer Training Centres and Youth Vocational Training Centres set up since 2004 after obtaining affiliation from the Youth Affairs Department would not function. Justice Banerjee had directed the department not to give any approval or financial assistance for opening new computer centres in the state.

Advocate Kalyan Banerjee, counsel of the owners of the computer centres, moved the plea saying thousands of students have been affected following the order passed by the single bench. The bench had passed the interim order before hearing arguments of both sides, he pleaded.

Namaste London vs Poran Jay Joliya Re
A Division Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and I P Mukerji of the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday did not pass any formal order on lifting the ban on the screening of Bengali film Poran Jay Joliya Re — alleged to be a plagiarised version of a Hindi film. The Bench asked the counsels of both the producers — Bipul Shah of Namaste London and Venkatesh Film of Poran Jay Joliya Re — to submit the respective scripts as well as the screenplays on Friday. The Bench said that it would be easy to compare the two films once they go through the scripts.

IT order on Suchitra Sen’s wealth set aside
The Calcutta High Court On Wednesday set aside an order of the Income Tax authority on wealth tax of noted actress Suchitra Sen over her flat in a posh south Kolkata locality. Justice Indira Banerjee ordered that Sen must be heard by the IT authority before passing any order over her appeal.

Sen, who owned property at Ballygunge had given it to a developer and received nine flats in exchange. She sold six of them and turned the remaining three situated on one floor into a single one. Served with a demand of Rs 30,57,930 on March 30, 2006, she appealed to the assistant commissioner of wealth tax seeking lowering of the amount. When she did not receive a reply, her tax consultant Sibendu Basu made a representation to the commissioner of wealth tax, who in his order on March 31, 2008, said that the tax demand would not be lowered.





Provide data on undertrials lodged in jails, HC tells state–HC-tells-state/501415/

Express News Service Posted: Thursday , Aug 13, 2009 at 0154 hrs Mumbai:

In view of undertrials languishing in jail for years without trial, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to provide data regarding undertrials lodged in jails as on July 31, 2009.

The court has sought details of those who are in jail for three, five, seven and 10 years. For each category, the state shall also submit the offences prisoners are facing and reason for delay in adjudicating the cases.

A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi observed that most cases are not brought before court because of escort problems.

The judges further observed that most of these prisoners will be eligible for bail as they have already spent considerable amount of time in jail.

The bench had earlier remarked that the state cannot keep someone in jail without trial for 10 years. The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by undertrial Shailesh Gandhi.

Based on earlier court direction last year, a report has been filed by TADA court and Principal Judge of the sessions court regarding details of undertrials who are in jail since 1993 for offences under TADA.

Others include undertrials facing charges for offences under NDPS as well as Indian Penal Code.





HC seeks fresh status report from MCD

TNN 13 August 2009, 06:22am IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a fresh status report from MCD on a PIL seeking direction to take steps for closure of illegal slaughterhouses in the city.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice of Delhi HC A P Shah and Justice Manmohan sought the report with details on the number of slaughterhouses in the city, after the construction of modern Ghazipur slaughterhouse, within a week and directed a senior officer to be present on August 19, the next date of hearing, to explain the situation. “Make a statement before the court and tell us what is possible,” the court said.

The court’s direction came on a PIL filed by one Mohamed Amjad Thakur alleging the civic agency’s failure to control the illegal slaughterhouses in the city.





Shopian case: J-K to seek HC nod for CBI probe

Express news service Posted: Thursday , Aug 13, 2009 at 0530 hrs Srinagar:

Following reports that samples taken from the Shopian rape and murder victims had been tampered with, the J-K government on Wednesday decided to hand over the controversial case to the CBI after seeking permission from the High Court.

“The government has decided that it will refer the case to the CBI,” Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said in the Assembly after the opposition PDP raised the issue. “We will bring this to the notice of the High Court in the next hearing. We will have to follow the High Court’s directions then,” the minister added.

Meanwhile, attesting that fact that the vaginal swabs sent for DNA analysis to the Central Forensic Laboratory do not match with those of Aasiya and Neelofer, the High Court said it would constitute a more empowered Special Investigation Team to probe the case if it was not satisfied with the work of the present SIT. This SIT, the court observed, would be on the pattern of the one formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the Godhra riots.

 “It is no longer a case of either Bar or Shakeel (husband of one of the murdered women). It is now the case of the people of Kashmir. We will pursue this case,” said Chief Justice Barin Ghosh after Advocate General Ishaq Qadiri presented the status report of the SIT and a sealed envelope containing the CFSL report.

“We seek suggestions form the Bar and the Advocate General in their individual capacities, not as parties to this case, to give a proper direction to the investigations,” he said, also seeking suggestions of the Shopian Majlis Mashawarat which has been leading a campaign for justice.

When Bar president Mian Qayoom expressed fears that the case may go the same way as the sex scandal, the Chief Justice said: “We will not permit this. It is better, you talk to Shakeel and the Shopian Majlis and come up with suggestions to give the case a proper direction,” Chief Justice Ghosh said.

At this, Shakeel told the court that he has been receiving constant threats from the police to shut up. “All through the investigation I have been receiving threats from the police. This matter can be solved within no time but I doubt the sincerity of the investigation team,” he said.

Earlier the Speaker had to cancel Zero Hour after the PDP, joined by some members of the ruling NC and Communist leader M Y Tarigami, raised the issue. “Pathribal is being repeated… Again, attempts are being made to shield the culprits. The government should set a timeframe to complete the investigations,” Mehbooba Mufti said.





HC to rescue of stray dog lovers

12 August 2009, 11:58pm IST

NEW DELHI: The next time you think of feeding stray dogs in your locality, take care. Some irate residents have now taken upon themselves to assault and abuse neighbours who feed stray canines.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday came across seven such complaints, including one filed by a lawyer, from different parts of the capital. They all sought protection from neighbours who allegedly abused and assaulted them.

Coming to the rescue of the complainants, Justice Rajiv Shakdher directed the police to ensure the safety of the women who had taken up the task of tending to stray dogs. The HC also directed the SHOs of the concerned areas to “act upon the complaints”.

Filing a petition through counsel Kanchan Singh, petitioner Namrata Chanda sought a direction for security to her as some of her neighbours had allegedly assaulted her for feeding dogs.

She claimed that being an animal rights activist, she also regularly insured vaccination and sterilization of stray dogs as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The petitioner brought to the court’s notice that the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pension commission had issued circulars clearly indicating that tending to community animals must not be objected to.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher directed the SHO of Freedom Fighters colony in Kalkaji area of South Delhi to protect Chanda.

The high court, which is also hearing the main petition filed by NGO Citizens for the Welfare and Protection of Animals on the issue, delivered a verbal order just a week after disposing of a similar petition in which protection was sought. The court on August 4 was then assured by the additional standing counsel of the government that the safety of petitioner Jasmine Damkewala, a practising lawyer, would be ensured and the complaint would be passed on to the SHO for “appropriate action”.

Talking about the incident, Jasmine said, “Many dog loving citizens have come forward to file their complaints as we face resentment from every quarter for feeding dogs. Even the NGO Frendicoes has filed a petition before the court. We don’t want people with such mentality to hamper our task.”





HC appointments under challenge

TNN 13 August 2009, 03:01am IST

BANGALORE: Appointments by the high court, by way of a notification in 2008, to the posts of second division assistants have been challenged.

Ramesha had filed an application pursuant to the June 23, 2008, notification. He has, however, claimed in his petition that persons who have not filed the applications as specified under the rules were selected. “A candidate with just PUC qualification has been appointed, though the minimum qualification prescribed is a degree,” he has stated.

“Persons who have not made any applications pursuant to the notification have been appointed. And the person with PUC qualification has been given appointment with a rider that he should complete the degree in 5 years. The petitioner, who has got 62% marks in degree, is sidelined without reason,” M S Padmarajaiah, the petitioner’s counsel, said.

“We are suffering because of a dearth of staff. No candidates are available. Some of those who have been selected cannot draft legal papers. Some persons, when asked to write `high court’, will write `I court’. What to do? Some of them have good marks but they studied in Kannada… Because of all these practical difficulties, we have promoted office assistants to higher posts, giving them 2-3 years to complete necessary minimum educational qualification,” a division Bench headed by the chief justice observed before asking the HC registry to find out why the petitioner’s case was left out.

`Complete hearing case by month-end’

A division Bench has directed a single Bench to complete the hearing in a disqualification matter pertaining to 13 councilors from Mandya, by the end of the month. Byrappa and others have moved the court, challenging the disqualification as well as the rider put by the single Bench taking away their voting rights.

Land near BMIC peripheral road: status quo ordered

The high court has ordered status quo in relation to some agricultural lands in Chikkathoguru village in Bangalore South. The court had ordered a notice to NICE, undertaking the BMIC peripheral road project, KIADB and the government on a petition by Ramayya and others. The petitioners have claimed that their lands were unnecessarily and illegally acquired for the project.




Justice Misra is Patna HC CJ

TNN 13 August 2009, 05:37am IST

PATNA: Governor Debanand Konwar on Wednesday administered oath of office to the new Chief Justice of Patna High Court, Justice Prafulla Kumar Misra, at a simple function at the Rajbhawan here.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar, Bihar Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary, Legislative Council chairman Tarakant Jha, Justice Shivakirti Singh and other present and former judges of the high court, Bar Council of India chairman S N P Sinha, advocate general P K Shahi and many lawyers were present on the occasion.

Chief secretary Anup Mukherjee read out the Presidential warrant of appointment of Justice Misra as the Chief Justice of Patna HC. Law minister Ramnath Thakur, DGP Anand Shankar and senior IAS and IPS officers of the state were also present on the occasion.

Justice Misra would be the Chief Justice for a little more than a month as he is to retire on September 17, 2009. It was in 1996 that he was elevated from the bar as a judge of the Orissa High Court. Before being appointed the Patna HC Chief Justice, he was a judge in the Madras HC.

He hails from a reputed family of jurists. His father late Jaikant Misra was a judge while his uncle Gatikant Misra was the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court. His elder sister, Justice A K Padhi, was also a judge of the Orissa High Court.





Govt in fix over HC query on cop

Ajanta Chakraborty, TNN 13 August 2009, 04:59am IST

KOLKATA: Who was responsible for initiating an “illegal” vigilance inquiry against IPS officer Nazrul Islam in 2006? This question by Calcutta High Court has put the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government in a fix.

Islam, who has apparently been asked by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to join her ministry as a senior officer, has been in news for the “step-motherly” treatment meted out to him by the state government. He also got into a controversy last year for writing an article against the state government’s ways.

In 2006, Islam, now the additional director general of police (traffic), had filed a case against the state government because the state vigilance commission had initiated an inquiry against him, based on an anonymous letter. The letter had alleged that the IPS officer had amassed wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Islam filed a petition in Calcutta HC, challenging the inquiry. He also alleged that the inquiry had caused him harassment and humiliation.

On June 25, 2008, Justice S P Talukdar directed the state government to pay Re 1 as compensation to Islam for initiating an “illegal” vigilance inquiry against him. It also asked the government to hold the officer responsible for initiating the “illegal” case against Nazrul, then IG (welfare). During the hearings, the state home secretary had conceded that the vigilance inquiry had not been initiated as per law making the court dub the inquiry as “inherently illegal”.

The judge directed that the compensation (Re 1) be deducted from the salary of the errant officer and be paid to Islam in four weeks. Following the order, the state government issued a cheque of Re 1 to Islam in July. The amount had come from the state treasury and the government chose not to identify the individual responsible for Islam’s harassment.

Even as it paid Islam the cheque, the state government chose to file an appeal before the division Bench against the order. In November last year, a division Bench upheld the order passed by the single Bench. The Bench comprising Chief Justice S S Njjar and Justice Sanjib Banerjee also directed the government to ascertain the responsibility of the state government official who had caused the harassment to Islam. As per the court’s directive, the amount should have been detected from this official’s salary.

But months have passed and the state government has remained mum on the second part of the court order. Islam has been writing several letters to chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti, home secretary Ardhendu Sen and even to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Not receiving any response, the IPS officer finally sought the explanation through the Right to Information Act.

“We have received the complaint. But I cannot comment any further than this,” state chief information commissioner Arun Bhattacharya told TOI.




SNC Lavalin scam: SC returns Pinarayi Vijayan’s writ


Thiruvananthapuram, Wednesday 12 August 2009: The writ petition filed by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan challenging the Kerala Governor RS Gavai’s decision to prosecute him in the sensational 300 billion crores SNC Lavalin scam was returned by the Apex Court today.

Pinarayi Vijayan filed the writ petition at the Apex Court on Monday through senior lawyer PH Parekh.

The petition was filed in the wake of increasing speculation on the delay of filing petition by the comrade who is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to Canadian company SNC Lavalin for of two power plants when he was the state power minister in 1997. Pinarayi Vijayan is the seventh accused in the case. Among the accused is an official of SNC Lavalin and also the Canadian company itself.

The other six are all former officials of the Kerala State Electricity Board.

According to reports, Pinarayi expects to get a stay as he is supposed to appear before the trial court on 24th next month. In his petition Pinarayi vijayan has alleged that, the Governor cannot over rule the decision of state cabinet and while giving consent the Governor has not abided the guidelines of Supreme Court.

In the progress report filed by the CBI Chennai unit DYSP, V Ashok Kumar, before the CBI Special court, here, it has been stated that Vijayan, a former Power minister, should be arraigned as the seventh accused as while serving as Electricity Minister between May 1996 and October 1998 he colluded with K Mohanachandran, Principal Secretary (Power) and joined criminal conspiracy which was already hatched in 1995 by R Sivadasan, former KSEB chairman and others in the matter of awarding supply contracts of the projects to Lavalin.

Vijayan had led a high level delegation to Canada in October 1996 and held discussions with SNC Lavalin and Export Development Corporation International Development agency regarding the contract and took a decision in awarding the supply contracts to Lavalin at a fixed rate basis, the investigating agency said.

The main consideration in the award of the contract, which was signed by KSEB on February 10, 1997 without government approval, was the grant offered for establishment of Malabar Cancer Centre (MCC) at Thalassery in Kannur district.

The E Balanandan committee, appointed by the Kerala government, in its report had opined that the complete replacement of the machinery need not be carried out for the hydel projects and essential parts alone need to be replaced for which the estimated cost will be around Rs 100.5 crore.

CBI said Vijayan along with then Chief Minister, late E K Nayanar and late Dr V Rajagopal, then KSEB chairman, again visited Canada during June 1997 where the grant amount to establish the MCC was decided at Rs 100 crore.

The CBI stated that Vijayan along with other accused had ‘fraudulently with dishonest intention’ of showing undue favour to SNC Lavalin entered into only a ‘non binding’ memorandum of understanding on April 25, 1998 for MCC instead of a legally valid MOA which facilitated Lavlin to back out from the commitment later, thereby ‘cheating the government.’ Lavlin, taking advantage of the non binding agreement, backed out of the commitment after spending only about Rs 12 crore through its consultants, thus not financing MCC to the tune of Rs 86.25 crore.

As part of the criminal conspiracy Vijayan, Mohanachandran and A Francis and others placed a crucial note for approval before the council of ministers on Mar 3, 1998, after suppressing various facts, including the fact that MOU route was dispensed with the Union government, full report of the National Hydel Electric power corporation was not highlighted and concurrence of Central Electrical Authority, and obtained cabinet approval, CBI stated.

Vijayan also had close contacts with SNC Lavalin officials and by abusing his official position had exerted ‘high pressure’ on the staff of KSEB and thereby favoured Lavalin in their official dealings with KSEB, CBI said.

The investigations revealed that supply contract for renovation and modernisation of the Panniyar, Shengulam and Pallivasal hydel projects was given to SNC Lavalin at an exorbitant rate and the per MW cost for the same was the highest. This caused a loss to the Kerala government with corresponding wrongful gain to Lavalin, CBI said.





Prisoner murdered in jail, claim rights activist,+claim+rights+activist&artid=/H8d7cES8mw=&SectionID=vBlkz7JCFvA=&MainSectionID=fyV9T2jIa4A=&SectionName=EL7znOtxBM3qzgMyXZKtxw==&SEO=

C Shivakumar

First Published : 15 Aug 2009 04:28:00 AM IST

Last Updated :


CHENNAI: Mystery shrouds the death of a prisoner in the Cuddalore Central Prison recently with prison officials alleging it to be a suicide and rights group claiming it to be a murder.

Amul Babu died on August 3, 2009, of head injuries. News reports quoting prison officials said Babu committed suicide by dashing his head against the prison wall. But a petition filed by a rights group Prisoners Rights Forum with the NHRC on Friday alleged that Babu did not commit suicide but was allegedly murdered by about 10 prison warders in the Cuddalore prison.

The death of a prisoner in Cuddalore Central Prison recently “was not suicide but murder”, claims the petition.

The petition says that, “Babu was kept in the quarantine block of Cuddalore prison on August 3. He was removed from the quarantine block by a group of prison warders forcibly and was taken to an unknown place at about 11 pm.” “About 10 prison warders joined together and beat Amul Babu severely and caused serious bleeding injuries on his body and threw him back into his cell in the quarantine block. After some time, the prison warders again entered his cell and took him away and had brutally beaten him to death,” the petition alleged. The petition alleged that, “no enquiry worth the name was ever conducted either by the state government or by any prison authorities into the alleged suicide.” “These warders have always been at the command of deputy jailor Sekar and they have been doing whatever he commands them to do. They are called commando party in the prison,” the petition alleged.

A senior police officer told Express, “He was found in possession of ganja.

An enquiry is going on. It is an unnatural death. Only an enquiry can reveal whether it is a homicide or suicide.” A prison official in Cuddalore claims the allegations of murder is false. When questioned on how Amul Babu could cause such fatal injuries by banging his head on the wall, a Cuddalore Central Jail official said, “May be after banging his head on the wall he would have fallen and have hit his head on the ground affecting his brain. Let us wait for the RDO enquiry and the post mortem report.” The prison official said, “Amul Babu was an AIDS patient. We recovered some drugs from him. It may be drugs or may be herbs which he may be taking as a medicine. We have taken the samples for a chemical analysis.”




NHRC officer selected for police medal


New Delhi, Aug 14 (PTI) Inspector Rajvir Singh of the Investigation Division of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been chosen for police medal on the occasion of Independence Day for meritorious service.

According to NHRC, Singh has been part of several spot inquiries conducted by the Commission which included Nandigram violence in West Bengal, Kandhamal violence in Orissa and naxal violence and Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh.

Singh had joined Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in 1982 as assistant sub-inspector and later moved to the NHRC in 2006.

He will be the sixth officer posted with the Investigation Division of the NHRC who have been honoured with the prestigious award in the last three years





Nightmare In Free India

Chhattisgarh hounds rape victims who dare to raise their voice


LAST MONTH, TEHELKA published a report on how India’s apex statutory human rights watchdog, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has virtually connived with the Chhattisgarh police to deny justice to that state’s poor tribal women – women who were raped by Special Police Officers (SPOs) from a tribal militia paid by the state police. Ever since these women moved a judicial court in the southern Chhattisgarh district of Dantewada two months ago, police and SPOs have been terrorising them to take back their case, forcing them to run from their ‘protectors’.

This militia, the Salwa Judum (literally: peace march), has wreaked havoc on the poor and defenseless tribals of Chhattisgarh for four years, burning entire villages, beating men and women and forcing thousands into government-sponsored and -protected camps. From these forced migrants, the state police have enrolled over a thousand people and has had them turn guns and brutalities on other tribals.

In June 2008, on orders from the Supreme Court, an allpolice team from the NHRC met several women who accused SPOs of raping them – but rejected their testimonies. Even as copies of the TEHELKA issue which carried the horrifying rape testimonies were being distributed, SPOs began swooping down on the villages of these women, threatening them openly. In one such village, Shamshetty, a dozen SPOs rode in on motorcycles, claiming they wanted to meet the women “to pay them money.”

One rape victim who lives in a village close to the border with Andhra Pradesh had the AP police arrive at her door, threatening to take her and her husband to AP – unjustifiable because she has no criminal or civil case, against her or filed by her, in AP. In a third village, the SPOs were actually accompanied by the police. They asked for the rape victim by name.

On August 2, these rape victims turned up at the makeshift office of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA), a Gandhian NGO run by activist Himanshu Kumar, at Dantewada town. Angry over Kumar’s fearless and resolute campaign against the Salwa Judum atrocities, the police had illegally demolished his 17- year-old sprawling ashram three months ago. On August 11, Kumar took the victims to meet the city’s district magistrate (DM), IAS officer RB Kangaley. “Police goons are threatening to kill these women on Independence Day, August 15th,” he told her. Is this freedom? Is this Gandhi’s free India? Kumar says Kangaley has promised them protection. Will she succeed?

A word here about the judge hearing the rape victims’ testimonies in Konta, a sub-district of Dantewada. For the last two hearing dates – July 17 and August 12 – the judge has been “called away to headquarters”. The victims’ lawyer says they have no formal explanation why he is unable to come to court when the victims are to be heard.

Is it just the State that is callous and brutal towards hapless, defenseless victims of rape? Or are we as a class complicit in refusing to accept these rape victims as full citizens of independent India? Nine years of pioneering journalism has made TEHELKA a household name across India, with wide acceptability overseas. Last week, one of India’s most prestigious journalism awards, instituted by the Rajasthan Patrika newspaper, was awarded to my colleague, Harinder Baweja, for her stunning exclusive reportage from the headquarters of the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan. On the other hand, India’s top media organizations – from newspapers to TV channels – have ignored the heartrending testimonies of these six women from Chhattisgarh. It is a pity that sixty-two years after India earned independence, promising justice and liberty for its sons and daughters, tribals in our forest lands find no support from India’s social and political elite in their fight for justice.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 33, Dated August 22, 2009





‘Sold’ kid takes parents to NHRC, NCW

Chandigarh, Aug 12 : She was just 13 when she was sold off to a 30-year-old man for Rs 50,000 after a small bidding. Two years later she escaped her captor but was sold off again, this time for Rs 100,000.

Now 15-year-old Netra (name changed), who managed to give her second ‘husband’ the slip on Aug 5, has decided her parents cannot get away with it and that ‘victimized minors like me’ need to send a strong message to society against sexual exploitation of helpless young girls.

‘The excuse was that my father was poor, so even those who knew about it kept quiet,’ said Netra, tears welling up in her swollen eyes. ‘But I have now decided to take up my case with the NHRC and the National Commission for Women. Maybe there will be some justice for me.’

Narrating her horrifying story on Tuesday, she said, ‘I was sold by my father for Rs 50,000 to a man in Pinjore. The other one in Kurukshetra, a mill owner, bought me for Rs one lakh. My family was in dire need of money and my father’s vegetables shop wasn’t doing well. And I ended up getting sold.’

The girl from Rajpura added she was ‘physically, mentally and sexually’ abused by both men for two years.

‘I still remember the date when I was put up for sale. January 17, 2007. I was just 13. My family had then asked me to accompany them to Pinjore. But when we reached there, I was informed about my marriage. Later, he told me that he had purchased me for Rs 50,000 and that I should do as he wished.’



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